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A.C. No. 4984.

April 1, 2003]
ATTY.

JULITO D. VITRIOLO, PRECILLANA J. HONORICA,


ARLEEN J. RAMOS, DR. ROGER PEREZ, DR. IMELDA
DARAUG, DR. REMIGIA NATHANIELZ, CELEDONIA
CORONACION,
and
JOSE
RABALO, complainants,
vs. ATTY. FELINA DASIG, respondent.
RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM:
This is an administrative case for disbarment filed against Atty.
Felina S. Dasig,[1] an official of the Commission on Higher Education
(CHED). The charge involves gross misconduct of respondent in
violation of the Attorneys Oath for having used her public office to
secure financial spoils to the detriment of the dignity and reputation of
the CHED.
Almost all complainants in the instant case are high-ranking
officers of the CHED. In their sworn Complaint-Affidavit filed with this
Court on December 4, 1998, complainants allege that respondent,
while she was OIC of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, committed acts that
are grounds for disbarment under Section 27, [2] Rule 138 of the Rules
of Court, to wit:
a) Sometime in August 1998 and during the effectivity of
Respondents designation as Officer-in-Charge of Legal
Affairs Service, CHED, she demanded from Betty C.
Mangohon, a teacher of Our Lady of Mariazel Educational
Center in Novaliches, Quezon City, the amount of
P20,000.00 and later reduced to P5,000.00 for the
facilitation of her application for correction of name then
pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED...
b) Likewise, sometime in July to August 1998 and during the
effectivity of Respondents designation as Officer-inCharge of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, she demanded
from Rosalie B. Dela Torre, a student, the amount of
P18,000.00 to P20,000.00 for facilitation of her
application for correction of name then pending before
the Legal Affairs Service, CHED
c) Likewise, sometime in September 1998 and during the
effectivity of Respondents designation as Officer-in-

Charge of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, she demanded


from Rocella G. Eje, a student, the amount of P5,000.00
for facilitation of her application for correction of name
then pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED. . .
In addition, Respondent even suggested to Ms. Eje to
register her birth anew with full knowledge of the
existence of a prior registration
d) Likewise, sometime in August to September 1998 and
during the effectivity of Respondents designation as
Officer-in-Charge of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, she
demanded from Jacqueline N. Ng, a student, a
considerable amount which was subsequently confirmed
to be P15,000.00 and initial fee of P5,000.00 more or less
for facilitation of her application for correction of name
then pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED... In
addition, the Respondent even suggested to Ms. Ng to
hire a lawyer who shall be chosen by Respondent Dasig to
facilitate the application for correction of name.[3]
Complainants likewise aver that respondent violated her oath as
attorney-at-law by filing eleven (11) baseless, groundless, and
unfounded suits before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon
City, which were subsequently dismissed.[4]
Further, complainants charge respondent of transgressing
subparagraph b (22), Section 36 [5] of Presidential Decree No. 807, for
her willful failure to pay just debts owing to Borela Tire Supply and
Novas Lining Brake & Clutch as evidenced by the dishonored
checks she issued,[6] the complaint sheet, and the subpoena issued to
respondent.[7]
Complainants also allege that respondent instigated the
commission of a crime against complainant Celedonia R. Coronacion
and Rodrigo Coronacion, Jr., when she encouraged and ordered her
son, Jonathan Dasig, a guard of the Bureau of Jail Management and
Penology, to draw his gun and shoot the Coronacions on the evening of
May 14, 1997. As a result of this incident, a complaint for grave
threats against the respondent and her son, docketed as Criminal Case
No. 86052, was lodged with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon
City, Branch 36.[8]
Finally, complainants allege that respondent authored and sent to
then President Joseph Estrada a libelous and unfair report, which
maligned the good names and reputation of no less than eleven (11)
CHED Directors calculated to justify her ill motive of preventing their

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

re-appointment and with the end view of securing an appointment for


herself.[9]
In our resolution of February 3, 1999, we required respondent to
file a Comment on the charges. [10] A copy of said resolution was sent to
the respondent at her address at Blk. 4, Lot 12, Hobart II Subdivision,
Novaliches, Quezon City, only to be returned to this Court with the
notation Unclaimed.[11]
On July 5, 1999, we directed that a copy of the resolution of
February 3, 1999, be served by registered mail to respondent at her
office address in CHED.
In a letter dated August 28, 2000, the Postmaster of the Ortigas
Center Post Office informed the Court that the said mail matter had
been delivered to, received by, and signed for by one Antonio Molon,
an authorized agent of respondent on August 27, 1999.[12]
On November 22, 2000, we granted complainants motion to refer
the complaint to the Commission on Bar Discipline, Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation.
In its order dated February 6, 2001, the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline directed respondent to submit her Answer to the Complaint,
failing which she would be considered in default and the case heard ex
parte. Respondent failed to heed said order and on January 8, 2002,
the Commission directed her anew to file her Answer, but again she
failed to comply with the directive. As a result, the Commission ruled
that she had waived her right to file her Comment or Answer to the
Complaint and the case was mainly resolved on the basis of the
documents submitted and on record.
In its report and recommendation, dated April 5, 2002, the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline stated as follows:
From the foregoing evidence on record, it can be concluded that
respondent in violation of her oath as a government official and as a
member of the Bar, indeed made unlawful demands or attempted to
extort money from certain people who had pending
applications/requests before her office in exchange for her promise to
act favorably on said applications/requests. Clearly, respondent
unlawfully used her public office in order to secure financial spoils to
the detriment of the dignity and reputation of the Commission on
Higher Education.
For the foregoing reasons, it is recommended that respondent be
suspended from the practice of law for the maximum period allowable
of three (3) years with a further warning that similar action in the
future will be a ground for disbarment of respondent.

On August 3, 2002, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution


No. XV-2002-393, the full text of which reads as follows:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
Resolution/Decision as Annex A:; and, finding the recommendation
fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and
rules; and considering that respondent unlawfully used her public
office in order to secure financial spoils to the detriment of the dignity
and reputation of the Commission on Higher Education, Respondent is
hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) years. [13]
At the threshold is the query of whether respondent attorney-atlaw, as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of Legal Services, CHED, may be
disciplined by this Court for her malfeasance, considering that her
position, at the time of filing of the complaint, was Chief Education
Program Specialist, Standards Development Division, Office of
Programs and Standards, CHED.
Generally speaking, a lawyer who holds a government office may
not be disciplined as a member of the Bar for misconduct in the
discharge of his duties as a government official. [14] However, if said
misconduct as a government official also constitutes a violation of his
oath as a lawyer, then he may be disciplined by this Court as a
member of the Bar.[15]
In this case, the record shows that the respondent, on various
occasions, during her tenure as OIC, Legal Services, CHED, attempted
to extort from Betty C. Mangohon, Rosalie B. Dela Torre, Rocella G.
Eje, and Jacqueline N. Ng sums of money as consideration for her
favorable action on their pending applications or requests before her
office. The evidence remains unrefuted, given the respondents failure,
despite the opportunities afforded her by this Court and the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline to comment on the charges. We find
that respondents misconduct as a lawyer of the CHED is of such a
character as to affect her qualification as a member of the Bar, for as a
lawyer, she ought to have known that it was patently unethical and
illegal for her to demand sums of money as consideration for the
approval of applications and requests awaiting action by her office.
The Attorneys Oath is the source of the obligations and duties of
every lawyer and any violation thereof is a ground for disbarment,
suspension, or other disciplinary action. The Attorneys Oath imposes
upon every member of the bar the duty to delay no man for money or
malice. Said duty is further stressed in Rule 1.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.[16] Respondents demands for sums of

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

money to facilitate the processing of pending applications or requests


before her office violates such duty, and runs afoul of the oath she took
when admitted to the Bar. Such actions likewise run contrary to Rule
1.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
A member of the Bar who assumes public office does not shed his
professional
obligations.
Hence,
the
Code
of
Professional
Responsibility, promulgated on June 21, 1988, was not meant to
govern the conduct of private practitioners alone, but of all lawyers
including those in government service. This is clear from Canon 6 [17] of
said Code. Lawyers in government are public servants who owe the
utmost fidelity to the public service. Thus, they should be more
sensitive in the performance of their professional obligations, as their
conduct is subject to the ever-constant scrutiny of the public.
Respondents attempts to extort money from persons with
applications or requests pending before her office are violative of Rule
1.01[18] of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which prohibits
members of the Bar from engaging or participating in any unlawful,
dishonest, or deceitful acts. Moreover, said acts constitute a breach of
Rule 6.02[19]of the Code which bars lawyers in government service
from promoting their private interests. Promotion of private interests
includes soliciting gifts or anything of monetary value in any
transaction requiring the approval of his office or which may be
affected by the functions of his office. Respondents conduct in office
falls short of the integrity and good moral character required from all
lawyers, specially from one occupying a high public office. For a
lawyer in public office is expected not only to refrain from any act or
omission which might tend to lessen the trust and confidence of the
citizenry in government, she must also uphold the dignity of the legal
profession at all times and observe a high standard of honesty and fair
dealing. Otherwise said, a lawyer in government service is a keeper of
the public faith and is burdened with high degree of social
responsibility, perhaps higher than her brethren in private practice.
For her violation of the Attorneys Oath as well as of Rule 1.01
and Rule 1.03 of Canon 1 [20] and Rule 6.02 of Canon 6 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, particularly for acts of dishonesty as well
as gross misconduct as OIC, Legal Services, CHED, we find that
respondent deserves not just the penalty of three years suspension
from membership in the Bar as well as the practice of law, as
recommended by the IBP Board of Governors, but outright
disbarment. Her name shall be stricken off the list of attorneys upon
finality of this decision.
WHEREFORE, respondent Arty. Felina S. Dasig is found liable for
gross misconduct and dishonesty in violation of the Attorneys Oath as

well as the Code of Professional Responsibility, and is hereby ordered


DISBARRED.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished to the Bar Confidant to
be spread on the records of the respondent, as well as to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines for distribution to all its chapters,
and the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all
courts throughout the country.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza, Panganiban,
Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, AustriaMartinez,
Corona,
Carpio-Morales,
Callejo,
Sr., and Azcuna,
JJ., concur.
G.R. No. L-26222
July 21, 1967
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLE JUDGE HERNANDO PINEDA of the Court of First
Instance of Lanao del Norte;
and TOMAS NARBASA, TAMBAC ALINDO and RUFINO
BORRES, respondents.
Dominador L. Padilla for petitioner.
Narbasa, Tambac Alindo and Borres for respondents.
SANCHEZ, J.:
Respondents Tomas Narbasa, Tambac Alindo and Rufino Borres stand
indicted before the Court of First Instance of Lanao del Norte, as
principals, in five (5) separate cases, four for murder, viz:
Criminal Case 1246 murder of Neceforo Mendoza;
Criminal Case 1247 murder of Epifania Mendoza;
Criminal Case 1248 frustrated murder of Valeriana Bontilao
de Mendoza;
Criminal Case 1249 murder of Teofilo Mendoza;
Criminal Case 1250 murder of Marcelo Mendoza.
The five informations were planted upon facts gathered by the
prosecuting attorney from his investigation. Of course, the truth of
these facts is yet to be tested in the crucible of a full-dress trial on the
merits.
The indictments are bottomed upon the following alleged pivotal facts:
On the night of July 29, 1965, the occupants of the home of the
spouses Teofilo Mendoza and Valeriana Bontilao de Mendoza in
Pugaan City of Iligan, were asleep. It was then that guns (rifle, caliber
22) and paliuntod(homemade gun) were fired in rapid succession from
outside the house. Teofilo Mendoza fell dead. Thereafter, defendants

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

below destroyed the door of the house, entered therein, and let loose
several shots killing Neceforo Mendoza, all minor children of the
couple and wounding Valeriana Bontilao de Mendoza.
Two of the three defendants in the five criminal cases heretofore listed
Tomas Narbasa and Tambak Alindo moved for a consolidation
thereof "into one (1) criminal case." Their plea is that "said cases
arose out of the same incident and motivated by one impulse."
Giving the nod to defendants' claim, respondent Judge, in an order
dated May 13, 1966, directed the City Fiscal to unify all the five
criminal cases, and to file one single information in Case 1246. He also
ordered that the other four cases, Nos. 1247, 1248, 1249 and 1250 "be
dropped from the docket."
The City Fiscal balked at the foregoing order, sought reconsideration
thereof, upon the ground that "more than one gun was used, more
than one shot was fired and more than one victim was killed." The
defense opposed.
On May 31, 1966, respondent Judge denied the motion to reconsider.
He took the position that the acts complained of "stemmed out of a
series of continuing acts on the part of the accused, not by different
and separate sets of shots, moved by one impulse and should therefore
be treated as one crime though the series of shots killed more than
one victim;" and that only one information for multiple murder should
be filed, to obviate the necessity of trying five cases instead of one."
Primarily to annul respondent Judge's orders of May 13, 1966 and May
31, 1966, as having been issued without or in excess of jurisdiction
and/or with grave abuse of discretion, the People came to this Court
on certiorari with a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction, and for
other reliefs.
This Court, on July 1, 1966, issued the cease-and-desist order prayed
for.
The question here presented, simply is this: Should there be one
information, either for the complex crime of murder and frustrated
murder or for the complex crime of robbery with multiple homicide
and frustrated homicide? Or, should the five indictments remain as
they are?
1. The case before us calls into question the applicability of Article 48
of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, which reads:
Art. 48. Penalty for complex crimes. When a single act
constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies, or when
an offense is a necessary means for committing the other, the
penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the same
to be applied in its maximum period.
Read as it should be, Article 48 provides for two classes of crimes
where a single penalty is to be imposed: first, where a single act
constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies (delito

compuesto); and, second, when an offense is a necessary means for


committing the other (delito complejo).1
Best exemplified by the first of the two cases is where one shot from a
gun results in the death of two or more persons. Jurisprudence
teaches that, in this factual setting, the complex crime defined in the
first part of Article 48 finds application.2 A similar rule obtains where
one stabbed another and the weapon pierced the latter's body through
and wounded another. The first died instantaneously; the second,
seven days later. This Court convicted the assailant of double
murder.3 So where a person plants a bomb in an airplane and the
bomb explodes, with the result that a number of persons are killed,
that single act again produces a complex crime.4
A different rule governs where separate and distinct acts result in a
number killed. Deeply rooted is the doctrine that when various victims
expire from separate shots, such acts constitute separate and distinct
crimes.5 Thus, where the six defendants, with others (armed with
pistols, carbines and also a submachine gun and Garand rifles), fired
volleys into a house killing eleven and wounding several others, each
of the said accused is "guilty of as many crimes of murder as there
were deaths (eleven).6 Again, eleven persons were indicted for
quadruple murder with the use of bolos, a pistol, a barbed arrow
and a piece of bamboo of a man, his common-law wife, and their
two children in cold blood. The accused were found guilty by the trial
court of such offense. This Court, in reversing this ruling below, held
that "[t]he four victims were not killed by a single act but by various
acts committed on different occasions and by different parties"; that
such acts "may not be regarded as constituting one single crime"; and
that "[t]hey should be held as separate and distinct crimes."7 And a
third. At the commencement exercises of an elementary school, "a shot
suddenly rang out" followed by a "series of shots" from a pistol. Two
persons lay dead and a third seriously wounded but who later on also
died. This Court there ruled that there were "three distinct and
separate murders" committed by appellant Juan Mones.8 And finally,
inPeople vs. Gatbunton, L-2435, May 10, 1950, the spouses Mariano
Sebastian and Maxima Capule who were asleep were killed by
one burst of machinegun fire; and then, by a second burst of
machinegun fire, two of the couple's children also asleep were
killed. The accused, Tomas Gatbunton, was found guilty by the trial
court of quadruple murder. On appeal, this Court declared that
"appellant must be declared guilty of four murders." 9
The present ease is to be differentiated from People vs. Lawas, L-761820, June 30, 1955. There, on a single occasion, about fifty Maranaos
were killed by a group of home guards. It was held that there was only
one complex crime. In that case, however, there was no conspiracy to

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

perpetuate the killing. In the case at bar, defendants performed


several acts. And the informations charge conspiracy amongst them.
Needless to state, the act of one is the act of all.10 Not material here,
therefore is the finding in Lawas that "it is impossible to ascertain the
individual deaths caused by each and everyone" of the accused. It is to
be borne in mind, at this point, that apply the first half of Article 48,
heretofore quoted, there must be singularity of criminal act;
singularity of criminal impulse is not written into the law.11
The respondent Judge reasons out in his order of May 31, 1966 that
consolidation of the five cases into one would have the salutary effect
of obviating the necessity of trying five cases instead of one. To save
time, indeed, is laudable. Nonetheless, the statute confers upon the
trial judge the power to try these cases jointly, such that the fear
entertained by respondent Judge could easily be remedied.12
Upon the facts and the law, we hold that the City Fiscal of Iligan City
correctly presented the five separate informations four for murder
and one for frustrated murder.
2. We have not overlooked the suggestion in the record that, because
of an affidavit of one of the witnesses, possibility exists that the real
intent of the culprits was to commit robbery, and that the acts
constituting murders and frustrated murder complained of were
committed in pursuance thereof. If true, this would bring the case
within the coverage of the second portion of Article 48, which treats as
a complex crime a case where an offense is a necessary means for
committing the other.
A rule of presumption long familiar, however, is that official duty has
been regularly performed.13 If the Fiscal has not seen fit to give weight
to said affidavit wherein it is alleged that certain personal properties
(transistor radio and money) were taken away by the culprits after the
shooting, we are not to jettison the prosecutor's opinion thereon. The
Fiscal could have had reasons for his act. For one thing, there is the
grave problem of proving the elements of that offense robbery. For
another, the act could have been but a blind to cover up the real intent
to kill. Appropriately to be noted here is that all the informations
charged evident premeditation. With ponderables and imponderables,
we are reluctant to hazard a guess as to the reasons for the Fiscal's
action. We are not now to say that, on this point, the Fiscal has abused
his discretion. A prosecuting attorney, by the nature of his office, is
under no compulsion to file a particular criminal information where he
is not convinced that he has evidence to prop up the averments
thereof, or that the evidence at hand points to a different conclusion.
This is not to discount the possibility of the commission of abuses on
the part of the prosecutor. But we must have to recognize that a
prosecuting attorney should not be unduly compelled to work against

his conviction. In case of doubt, we should give him the benefit


thereof. A contrary rule may result in our courts being unnecessarily
swamped with unmeritorious cases. Worse still, a criminal suspect's
right to due process the sporting idea of fair play may be
transgressed. So it is, that in People vs. Sope 75 Phil. 810, 815, this
Court made the pronouncement that "[i]t is very logical that the
prosecuting attorney, being the one charged with the prosecution of
offenses, should determine the information to be filed and cannot be
controlled by the off ended party."14
3. The impact of respondent Judge's orders is that his judgment is to
be substituted for that of the prosecutor's on the matter of what crime
is to be filed in court. The question of instituting a criminal charge is
one addressed to the sound discretion of the investigating Fiscal. The
information he lodges in court must have to be supported by facts
brought about by an inquiry made by him. It stands to reason then to
say that in a clash of views between the judge who did not investigate
and the fiscal who did, or between the fiscal and the offended party or
the defendant, those of the Fiscal's should normally prevail. In this
regard, he cannot ordinarily be subject to dictation. We are not to be
understood as saying that criminal prosecution may not be blocked in
exceptional cases. A relief in equity "may be availed of to stop it
purported enforcement of a criminal law where it is necessary (a) for
the orderly administration of justice; (b) to prevent the use of the
strong arm of the law in an oppressive and vindictive manner; (c) to
avoid multiplicity of actions; (d) to afford adequate protection to
constitutional rights; and (e) in proper cases, because the statute
relied upon is unconstitutional or was 'held invalid.' "15 Nothing in the
record would as much as intimate that the present case fits into any of
the situations just recited.1wph1.t
And at this distance and in the absence of any compelling fact or
circumstance, we are loathe to tag the City Fiscal of Iligan City with
abuse of discretion in filing separate cases for murder and frustrated
murder, instead of a single case for the complex crime of robbery with
homicide and frustrated homicide under the provisions of Article 294
(1) of the Revised Penal Code or, for that matter, for multiple murder
and frustrated murder. We state that, here, the Fiscal's discretion
should not be controlled.
Upon the record as it stands, the writ of certiorari prayed for is hereby
granted; the orders of respondent Judge of May 13, 1965 and May 31,
1966 are hereby set and declared null and void, and, in consequence,
the writ of preliminary injunction heretofore issued is made
permanent insofar as it stops enforcement of the said orders; and the
respondent Judge, or whoever takes his place, is hereby directed to
reinstate Criminal Cases 1246, 1247, 1248, 1249 and 1250 as they

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

were commenced, and to take steps towards the final determination


thereof.
Costs against respondents Tomas Narbasa, Tambac Alindo and Rutino
Borres. So ordered.
Reyes, J.B.L., Makalintal, Bengzon J.P., Zaldivar, Castro, Angeles and
Fernando, JJ., concur.
Concepcion, C.J. and Dizon, J., took no part.
A.C. No. 3056 August 16, 1991
FERNANDO T. COLLANTES, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. VICENTE C. RENOMERON respondent.
PER CURIAM:p
This complaint for disbarment is related to the administrative case
which complainant Attorney Fernando T. Collantes, house counsel for
V & G Better Homes Subdivision, Inc. (V & G for short), filed against
Attorney Vicente C. Renomeron, Register of Deeds of Tacloban City, for
the latter's irregular actuations with regard to the application of V & G
for registration of 163 pro forma Deeds of Absolute Sale with
Assignment of lots in its subdivision. The present complaint charges
the respondent with the following offenses:
1. Neglecting or refusing inspite (sic) repeated
requests and without sufficient justification, to act
within reasonable time (sic) the registration of 163
Deeds of Absolute Sale with Assignment and the
eventual issuance and transfer of the corresponding
163 transfer certificates of titles to the GSIS, for the
purpose of obtaining some pecuniary or material
benefit from the person or persons interested therein.
2. Conduct unbecoming of public official.
3. Dishonesty.
4. Extortion.
5. Directly receiving pecuniary or material benefit for
himself in connection with pending official transaction
before him.
6. Causing undue injury to a party, the GSIS [or]
Government through manifest partiality, evident bad
faith or gross inexcusable negligence.
7. Gross ignorance of the law and procedure. (p. 10,
Rollo.)
As early as January 15, 1987, V & G had requested the respondent
Register of Deeds to register some 163 deeds of sale with assignment
(in favor of the GSIS) of lots of the V & G mortgaged to GSIS by the lot
buyers. There was no action from the respondent.

Another request was made on February 16, 1987 for him to approve or
deny registration of the uniform deeds of absolute sale with
assignment. Still no action except to require V & G to submit proof of
real estate tax payment and to clarify certain details about the
transactions.
Although V & G complied with the desired requirements, respondent
Renomeron suspended the registration of the documents pending
compliance by V & G with a certain "special arrangement" between
them, which was that V & G should provide him with a weekly round
trip ticket from Tacloban to Manila plus P2,000.00 as pocket money
per trip, or, in lieu thereof, the sale of respondent's Quezon City house
and lot by V & G or GSIS representatives.
On May 19, 1987, respondent confided to the complainant that he
would act favorably on the 163 registrable documents of V & G if the
latter would execute clarificatory affidavits and send money for a
round trip plane ticket for him.
The plane fare amounting to P800 (without the pocket money of
P2,000) was sent to respondent through his niece.
Because of V & G's failure to give him pocket money in addition to
plane fare, respondent imposed additional registration requirements.
Fed up with the respondent's extortionate tactics, the complainant
wrote him a letter on May 20, 1987 challenging him to act on all
pending applications for registration of V & G within twenty-four (24)
hours.
On May 22, 1987, respondent formally denied registration of the
transfer of 163 certificates of title to the GSIS on the uniform ground
that the deeds of absolute sale with assignment were ambiguous as to
parties and subject matter. On May 26, 1987, Attorney Collantes
moved for a reconsideration of said denial, stressing that:
... since the year 1973 continuously up to December
1986 for a period of nearly fifteen (15) years or for a
sum total of more than 2,000 same set of documents
which have been repeatedly and uniformly registered
in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Tacloban City
under Attys. Modesto Garcia and Pablo Amascual Jr., it
is only during the incumbency of Atty. Vicente C.
Renomeron, that the very same documents of the same
tenor have been refused or denied registration ... (p.
15, Rollo.)
On May 27, 1987, respondent elevated the matter en consulta to the
Administrator, National Land Titles and Deeds Registration
Administration (NLTDRA) (now the Land Registration Authority
[LRA]). In a Resolution dated July 27,1987 (Consulta No. 1579), the
NLTDRA ruled that the questioned documents were registrable.

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

Heedless of the NLTDRA's opinion, respondent continued to sit on V &


Gs 163 deeds of sale with assignment.
Exasperated by respondent's conduct, the complainant filed with the
NLTDRA on June 4, 1987 administrative charges (docketed as Adm.
Case No. 87-15), against respondent Register of Deeds.
Upon receipt of the charges, NLTDRA Administrator Teodoro G.
Bonifacio directed respondent to explain in writing why no
administrative disciplinary action should be taken against him.
Respondent was further asked whether he would submit his case on
the basis of his answer, or be heard in a formal investigation.
In his answer dated July 9, 1987, respondent denied the charges of
extortion and of directly receiving pecuniary or material benefit for
himself in connection with the official transactions awaiting his action.
Although an investigator was appointed by NLTDRA Administrator
Bonifacio to hear Attorney Collantes' charges against him, Attorney
Renomeron waived his right to a formal investigation. Both parties
submitted the case for resolution based on the pleadings.
The investigator, Attorney Leonardo Da Jose, recommended dropping
the charges of: (1) dishonesty; (2) causing undue injury to a party
through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable
negligence; and (3) gross ignorance of the law and procedure. He
opined that the charge of neglecting or refusing, in spite repeated
requests and without sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable
time on the registration of the documents involved, in order to extort
some pecuniary or material benefit from the interested party, absorbed
the charges of conduct unbecoming of a public official, extortion, and
directly receiving some pecuniary or material benefit for himself in
connection with pending official transactions before him.
Brushing aside the investigator's recommendation, NLTDRA
Administrator Teodoro G. Bonifacio on February 22, 1988,
recommended to Secretary of Justice Sedfrey A. Ordoez that the
respondent: (1) be found guilty of simple neglect of duty: (2) be
reprimanded to act with dispatch on documents presented to him for
registration; and (3) be warned that a repetition of similar infraction
will be dealt with more severely.
After due investigation of the charges, Secretary Ordoez found
respondent guilty of grave misconduct.
Our study and consideration of the records of the case
indicate that ample evidence supports the
Investigating Officer's findings that the respondent
committed grave misconduct.
The respondent unreasonably delayed action on the
documents presented to him for registration and,
notwithstanding representations by the parties

interested for expeditious action on the said


documents, he continued with his inaction.
The records indicate that the respondent eventually
formally denied the registration of the documents
involved; that he himself elevated the question on the
registrability of the said documents to Administrator
Bonifacio after he formally denied the registration
thereof, that the Administrator then resolved in favor
of the registrability of the said documents in question;
and that, such resolution of the Administrator
notwithstanding, the respondent still refused the
registration thereof but demanded from the parties
interested the submission of additional requirements
not adverted to in his previous denial.
xxx xxx xxx
In relation to the alleged 'special arrangement,'
although the respondent claims that he neither
touched nor received the money sent to him, on record
remains uncontroverted the circumstance that his
niece, Ms. de la Cruz, retrieved from him the amount
of P800.00 earlier sent to him as plane fare, not in the
original denomination of P100.00 bills but in P50.00
bills. The respondent had ample opportunity to clarify
or to countervail this related incident in his letter
dated 5 September 1987 to Administrator Bonifacio
but he never did so.
... We believe that, in this case, the respondent's being
new in office cannot serve to mitigate his liability. His
being so should have motivated him to be more aware
of applicable laws, rules and regulations and should
have prompted him to do his best in the discharge of
his duties. (pp. 17-18, Rollo.)
Secretary Ordoez recommended to President Corazon C. Aquino that
Renomeron be dismissed from the service, with forfeiture of leave
credits and retirement benefits, and with prejudice to re-employment
in the government service, effective immediately.
As recommended by the Secretary of Justice, the President of the
Philippines, by Adm. Order No. 165 dated May 3, 1990, dismissed the
respondent from the government service (pp. 1419, Rollo).
Less than two weeks after filing his complaint against Renomeron in
the NLTDRA, Attorney Collantes also filed in this Court on June 16,
1987, a disbarment complaint against said respondent.
The issue in this disbarment proceeding is whether the respondent
register of deeds, as a lawyer, may also be disciplined by this Court for
his malfeasances as a public official. The answer is yes, for his
Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)
7

misconduct as a public official also constituted a violation of his oath


as a lawyer.
The lawyer's oath (Rule 138, Section 17, Rules of Court; People vs. De
Luna, 102 Phil. 968), imposes upon every lawyer the duty to delay no
man for money or malice. The lawyer's oath is a source of his
obligations and its violation is a ground for his suspension, disbarment
or other disciplinary action (Legal Ethics, Ruben E. Agpalo, 1983
Edition, pp. 66-67).
As the late Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro said:
A person takes an oath when he is admitted to the Bar
which is designed to impress upon him his
responsibilities. He thereby becomes an "officer of the
court" on whose shoulders rests the grave
responsibility of assisting the courts in the proper. fair,
speedy, and efficient administration of justice. As an
officer of the court he is subject to a rigid discipline
that demands that in his every exertion the only
criterion he that truth and justice triumph. This
discipline is what as given the law profession its
nobility, its prestige, its exalted place. From a lawyer,
to paraphrase Justice Felix Frankfurter, are expected
those qualities of truth-speaking, a high sense of
honor, full candor, intellectual honesty, and the
strictest observance of fiduciary responsibility all of
which, throughout the centuries, have been
compendiously described as moral character.
Membership in the Bar is in the category of a mandate
to public service of the highest order. A lawyer is an
oath-bound servant of society whose conduct is clearly
circumscribed by inflexible norms of law and ethics,
and whose primary duty is the advancement of the
quest of truth and justice, for which he has sworn to be
a fearless crusader. (Apostacy in the Legal Profession,
64 SCRA 784, 789- 790; emphasis supplied.)
The Code of Professional Responsibility applies to lawyers in
government service in the discharge of their official tasks (Canon 6).
Just as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials
requires public officials and employees to process documents and
papers expeditiously (Sec. 5, subpars. [c] and [d] and prohibits them
from directly or indirectly having a financial or material interest in any
transaction requiring the approval of their office, and likewise bars
them from soliciting gifts or anything of monetary value in the course
of any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their
office (See. 7, subpars. [a] and [d]), the Code of Professional

Responsibility forbids a lawyer to engage in unlawful, dishonest,


immoral or deceitful conduct (Rule 1.01, Code of Professional
Responsibility), or delay any man's cause "for any corrupt motive or
interest" (Rule 103).
A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely
reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he,
whether in public or private life, behave in a
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession. (Rule 7.03, Code of Professional
Responsibility.)
This Court has ordered that only those who are "competent,
honorable, and reliable" may practice the profession of law (Noriega
vs. Sison, 125 SCRA 293) for every lawyer must pursue "only the
highest standards in the practice of his calling" (Court Administrator
vs. Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269, 278).
The acts of dishonesty and oppression which Attorney Renomeron
committed as a public official have demonstrated his unfitness to
practice the high and noble calling of the law (Bautista vs. Judge
Guevarra, 142 SCRA 632; Court Administrator vs. Rodolfo G.
Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269). He should therefore be disbarred.
WHEREFORE, it is hereby ordered that Attorney Vicente C.
Renomeron be disbarred from the practice of law in the Philippines,
and that his name be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys
SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 6707
March 24, 2006
GISELA HUYSSEN, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. FRED L. GUTIERREZ, Respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
This treats of a Complaint1 for Disbarment filed by Gisela Huyssen
against respondent Atty. Fred L. Gutierrez.
Complainant alleged that in 1995, while respondent was still
connected with the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID), she
and her three sons, who are all American citizens, applied for
Philippine Visas under Section 13[g] of the Immigration Law.
Respondent told complainant that in order that their visa applications
will be favorably acted upon by the BID they needed to deposit a
certain sum of money for a period of one year which could be
withdrawn after one year. Believing that the deposit was indeed
required by law, complainant deposited with respondent on six
different occasions from April 1995 to April 1996 the total amount of
US$20,000. Respondent prepared receipts/vouchers as proofs that he
received the amounts deposited by the complainant but refused to give

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

her copies of official receipts despite her demands. After one year,
complainant demanded from respondent the return of US$20,000 who
assured her that said amount would be returned. When respondent
failed to return the sum deposited, the World Mission for Jesus (of
which complainant was a member) sent a demand letter to respondent
for the immediate return of the money. In a letter dated 1 March 1999,
respondent promised to release the amount not later than 9 March
1999. Failing to comply with his promise, the World Mission for Jesus
sent another demand letter. In response thereto, respondent sent
complainant a letter dated 19 March 1999 explaining the alleged
reasons for the delay in the release of deposited amount. He enclosed
two blank checks postdated to 6 April and 20 April 1999 and
authorized complainant to fill in the amounts. When complainant
deposited the postdated checks on their due dates, the same were
dishonored because respondent had stopped payment on the same.
Thereafter, respondent, in his letter to complainant dated 25 April
1999, explained the reasons for stopping payment on the checks, and
gave complainant five postdated checks with the assurance that said
checks would be honored. Complainant deposited the five postdated
checks on their due dates but they were all dishonored for having
been drawn against insufficient funds or payment thereon was ordered
stopped by respondent. After respondent made several unfulfilled
promises to return the deposited amount, complainant referred the
matter to a lawyer who sent two demand letters to respondent. The
demand letters remained unheeded.
Thus, a complaint2 for disbarment was filed by complainant in the
Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP).
On 15 November 2000, Victor C. Fernandez, Director for Bar
Discipline, required3 respondent to submit his answer within 15 days
from receipt thereof.
In his Counter-Affidavit dated 2 July 2001,4 respondent denied the
allegations in the complaint claiming that having never physically
received the money mentioned in the complaint, he could not have
appropriated or pocketed the same. He said the amount was used as
payment for services rendered for obtaining the permanent visas in
the Philippines. Respondent explained thus:
a) Through a close-friend, Jovie Galaraga, a Pastor and
likewise a friend of the complainant, the latter was introduced
to me at my office at the Bureau of Immigration with a big
problem concerning their stay in the Philippines, herself and
three sons, one of which is already of major age while the two
others were still minors then. Their problem was the fact that
since they have been staying in the Philippines for almost ten

(10) years as holders of missionary visas (9G) they could no


longer extend their said status as under the law and related
polic[i]es of the government, missionary visa holders could
only remain as such for ten (10) years after which they could
no longer extend their said status and have to leave the
country.
b) Studying their case and being U.S. Citizen (sic), I advised
them that they better secure a permanent visa under Section 3
of the Philippine Immigration Law otherwise known as Quota
Visa and thereafter, provided them with list of the
requirements in obtaining the said visa, one of which is that
the applicant must have a $40,000 deposited in the bank. I
also inform that her son Marcus Huyssen, who was already of
major age, has to have the same amount of show money
separate of her money as he would be issued separate visa,
while her two minor children would be included as her
dependents in her said visa application. I advised them to get a
lawyer (sic), complainant further requested me to refer to her
to a lawyer to work for their application, which I did and
contacted the late Atty. Mendoza, an Immigration lawyer, to do
the job for the complainant and her family.
c) The application was filed, processed and followed-up by the
said Atty. Mendoza until the same was finished and the
corresponding permanent visa were obtained by the
complainant and her family. Her son Marcus Huyssen was
given an independent permanent visa while the other two were
made as dependents of the complainant. In between the
processing of the papers and becoming very close to the
complainant, I became the intermediary between complainant
and their counsel so much that every amount that the latter
would request for whatever purpose was coursed through me
which request were then transmitted to the complainant and
every amount of money given by the complainant to their
counsel were coursed thru me which is the very reason why
my signature appears in the vouchers attached in the
complaint-affidavit;
d) That as time goes by, I noticed that the amount appeared to
be huge for services of a lawyer that I myself began to wonder
why and, to satisfy my curiosity, I met Atty. Mendoza and
inquired from him regarding the matter and the following facts
were revealed to me:
1) That what was used by the complainant as her show
money from the bank is not really her money but
money of World Mission for Jesus, which therefore is a

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

serious violation of the Immigration Law as there was


a misrepresentation. This fact was confirmed later
when the said entity sent their demand letter to the
undersigned affiant and which is attached to the
complaint-affidavit;
2) That worst, the same amount used by the
complainant, was the very same amount used by her
son Marcus Huyssen, in obtaining his separate
permanent visa. These acts of the complainant and her
son could have been a ground for deportation and
likewise constitute criminal offense under the
Immigration Law and the Revised Penal Code. These
could have been the possible reason why complainant
was made to pay for quite huge amount.
e) That after they have secured their visas, complainant and
her family became very close to undersigned and my family
that I was even invited to their residence several times;
f) However after three years, complainant demanded the
return of their money given and surprisingly they want to
recover the same from me. By twist of fate, Atty. Mendoza is
no longer around, he died sometime 1997;
g) That it is unfortunate that the real facts of the matter is now
being hidden and that the amount of money is now being
sought to be recovered from me;
h) That the fact is I signed the vouchers and being a lawyer I
know the consequences of having signed the same and
therefore I had to answer for it and pay. I tried to raised the
fund needed but up to the present my standby loan application
has not been released and was informed that the same would
only be forthcoming second week of August. The same should
have been released last March but was aborted due to
prevalent condition. The amount to be paid, according to the
complainant has now become doubled plus attorneys fees
of P200,000.00.
Complainant submitted her evidence on 4 September 2002 and April
2003, and filed her Formal Offer of Evidence on 25 August 2003.
On several occasions, the complaint was set for reception of
respondents evidence but the scheduled hearings (11 settings) were
all reset at the instance of the respondent who was allegedly out of the
country to attend to his clients needs. Reception of respondents
evidence was scheduled for the last time on 28 September 2004 and
again respondent failed to appear, despite due notice and without just
cause.

On 5 November 2004, Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San


Juan submitted her report5 recommending the disbarment of
respondent. She justified her recommendation in this manner:
At the outset it should be noted that there is no question that
respondent received the amount of US$20,000 from complainant, as
respondent himself admitted that he signed the vouchers (Annexes A
to F of complainant) showing his receipt of said amount from
complainant. Respondent however claims that he did not appropriate
the same for himself but that he delivered the said amount to a certain
Atty. Mendoza. This defense raised by respondent is untenable
considering the documentary evidence submitted by complainant. On
record is the 1 March 1999 letter of respondent addressed to the
World Mission for Jesus (Annex H of Complaint) where he stated thus:
"I really understand your feelings on the delay of the release of the
deposit but I repeat, nobody really intended that the thing would
happen that way. Many events were the causes of the said delay
particularly the death of then Commissioner L. Verceles, whose
sudden death prevented us the needed papers for the immediate
release. It was only from compiling all on the first week of January this
year, that all the said papers were recovered, hence, the process of the
release just started though some important papers were already
finished as early as the last quarter of last year. We are just going
through the normal standard operating procedure and there is no day
since January that I do not make any follow ups on the progress of
the same."
and his letter dated 19 March 1999 (Annex L of Complaint) where he
stated thus:
"I am sending you my personal checks to cover the refund of the
amount deposited by your good self in connection with the
procurement of your permanent visa and that of your family. It might
take some more time before the Bureau could release the refund as
some other pertinent papers are being still compiled are being looked
at the files of the late Commissioner Verceles, who approved your visa
and who died of heart attack. Anyway, I am sure that everything would
be fine later as all the documents needed are already intact. This is
just a bureaucratic delay."
From the above letters, respondent makes it appear that the
US$20,000 was officially deposited with the Bureau of Immigration
and Deportation. However, if this is true, how come only Petty Cash
Vouchers were issued by respondent to complainant to prove his
receipt of the said sum and official receipts therefore were never
issued by the said Bureau? Also, why would respondent issue his
personal checks to cover the return of the money to complainant if
said amount was really officially deposited with the Bureau of

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

10

Immigration? All these actions of respondent point to the inescapable


conclusion that respondent received the money from complainant and
appropriated the same for his personal use. It should also be noted
that respondent has failed to establish that the "late Atty. Mendoza"
referred to in his Counter-Affidavit really exists. There is not one
correspondence from Atty. Mendoza regarding the visa application of
complainant and his family, and complainant has also testified that she
never met this Atty. Mendoza referred to by respondent.
Considering that respondent was able to perpetrate the fraud by
taking advantage of his position with the Board of Special Inquiry of
the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, makes it more
reprehensible as it has caused damage to the reputation and integrity
of said office. It is submitted that respondent has violated Rule 6.02 of
Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which reads:
"A lawyer in the government service shall not use his public position to
promote or advance his private interests, nor allow the latter to
interfere with his public duties."
On 4 November 2004, the IBP Board of Governors approved6 the
Investigating Commissioners report with modification, thus:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it hereby ADOPTED and
APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made
part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation
fully supported by the evidence on record and applicable laws and
rules, and considering respondents violation of Rule 6.02 of Canon 6
of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Atty. Fred L. Gutierrez is
hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law and ordered to return the
amount with legal interest from receipt of the money until payment.
This case shall be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman for
prosecution for violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Acts and
to the Department of Justice for appropriate administrative action.
We agree with the IBP Board of Governors that respondent should be
severely sanctioned.
We begin with the veritable fact that lawyers in government service in
the discharge of their official task have more restrictions than lawyers
in private practice. Want of moral integrity is to be more severely
condemned in a lawyer who holds a responsible public office.7
It is undisputed that respondent admitted8 having received the
US$20,000 from complainant as shown by his signatures in the petty
cash vouchers9 and receipts10 he prepared, on the false representation
that that it was needed in complainants application for visa with the
BID. Respondent denied he misappropriated the said amount and
interposed the defense that he delivered it to a certain Atty. Mendoza
who assisted complainant and children in their application for visa in
the BID.11 Such defense remains unsubstantiated as he failed to submit

evidence on the matter. While he claims that Atty. Mendoza already


died, he did not present the death certificate of said Atty. Mendoza.
Worse, the action of respondent in shifting the blame to someone who
has been naturally silenced by fate, is not only impudent but
downright ignominious. When the integrity of a member of the bar is
challenged, it is not enough that he deny the charges against him; he
must meet the issue and overcome the evidence against him.12 He
must show proof that he still maintains that degree of morality and
integrity which at all times is expected of him. In the case at bar,
respondent clearly fell short of his duty. Records show that even
though he was given the opportunity to answer the charges and
controvert the evidence against him in a formal investigation, he
failed, without any plausible reason, to appear several times whenever
the case was set for reception of his evidence despite due notice.
The defense of denial proferred by respondent is, thus, not convincing.
It is settled that denial is inherently a weak defense. To be believed, it
must be buttressed by a strong evidence of non-culpability; otherwise,
such denial is purely self-serving and is with nil evidentiary value.
When respondent issued the postdated checks as his moral obligation,
he indirectly admitted the charge. Such admissions were also
apparent in the following letters of respondent to complainant:
1) Letter13 dated 01 March 1992, pertinent portion of which reads:
Be that as it may, may I assure you for the last time that the said
deposit is forthcoming, the latest of which is 09 March 1999. Should it
not be released on said date, I understand to pay the same to you out
of my personal money on said date. No more reasons and no more
alibis. Send somebody here at the office on that day and the amount
would be given to you wether (sic) from the Bureau or from my own
personal money.
2) Letter14 dated 19 March 1999, reads in part:
I am sending you my personal checks to cover the refund of the
amount deposited by your goodself in connection with the
procurement of your permanent visa and that of your family.
It might take some more time before the Bureau could release the
refund as some other pertinent papers are still being compiled and are
being looked at the files of the late Commissioner Verceles, who
approved your visa and who died of heart attack. Anyway, I am sure
that everything would be fine later as all the documents needed are
already intact. This is just a bureaucratic delay.
xxxx
As you would see, I have to pay you in peso. I have issued you 2
checks, one dated April 6, 1999 and the other one dated April 20,
1999. I leave the amount vacant because I would want you to fill them
up on their due dates the peso equivalent to $10,000 respectively. This
is to be sure that the peso equivalent of your P20,000 would be well

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

11

exchanged. I have postdated them to enable me to raise some more


pesos to cover the whole amount but dont worry as the Lord had
already provided me the means.
3) Letter15 dated 25 April 1999 provides:
Anyway, let me apologize for all these troubles. You are aware that I
have done my very best for the early return of your money but the
return is becoming bleak as I was informed that there are still papers
lacking. When I stopped the payment of the checks I issued, I was of
the impression that everything is fine, but it is not. I guess it is time
for me to accept the fact that I really have to personally return the
money out of my own. The issue should stop at my end. This is the
truth that I must face. It may hurt me financially but it would set me
free from worries and anxieties.
I have arranged for a loan from money lenders and was able to secure
one last Saturday the releases of which are on the following:
May 4, 1999- 200,000
May 11, 1999 -200,000
May 20, 1999-200,000
June 4, 1999-200,000
I have given my property (lot situated in the province) as my
collateral.
I am therefore putting an end to this trouble. I am issuing four checks
which I assure you will be sufficiently funded on their due dates by
reason of my aforestated loans. Just bear with me for the last time, if
any of these checks, is returned, dont call me anymore. Just file the
necessary action against me, I just had to put an end to this matter
and look forward. x x x
4) Letter16 dated 12 May 1999, which reads:
The other day I deposited the amount of P289,000 to the bank to cover
the first check I issued. In fact I stopped all payments to all other
checks that are becoming due to some of my creditors to give
preference to the check I issued to you.
This morning when I went to the Bank, I learned that the bank instead
of returning the other checks I requested for stop payment - instead
honored them and mistakenly returned your check. This was a very
big surprise to me and discouragement for I know it would really upset
you.
In view of this I thought of sending you the amount of P200,000 in
cash which I initially plan to withdraw from the Bank. However, I
could not entrust the same amount to the bearer nor can I bring the
same to your place considering that its quite a big amount. I am just
sending a check for you to immediately deposit today and I was
assured by the bank that it would be honored this time.
Normally, this is not the actuation of one who is falsely accused of
appropriating the money of another. As correctly observed by the

Investigating Commissioner, respondent would not have issued his


personal checks if said amount were officially deposited with the BID.
This is an admission of misconduct.
Respondents act of asking money from complainant in consideration
of the latters pending application for visas is violative of Rule 1.01 17 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility, which prohibits members of
the Bar from engaging or participating in any unlawful, dishonest, or
deceitful acts. Moreover, said acts constitute a breach of Rule 6.0218 of
the Code which bars lawyers in government service from promoting
their private interest. Promotion of private interest includes soliciting
gifts or anything of monetary value in any transaction requiring the
approval of his office or which may be affected by the functions of his
office.19 Respondents conduct in office betrays the integrity and good
moral character required from all lawyers, especially from one
occupying a high public office. A lawyer in public office is expected not
only to refrain from any act or omission which might tend to lessen the
trust and confidence of the citizenry in government; he must also
uphold the dignity of the legal profession at all times and observe a
high standard of honesty and fair dealing. Otherwise said, a lawyer in
government service is a keeper of the public faith and is burdened
with high degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher than his
brethren in private practice.
In a desperate attempt to put up a smoke or to camouflage his
misdeed, he went on committing another by issuing several worthless
checks, thereby compounding his case.
In a recent case, we have held that the issuance of worthless checks
constitutes gross misconduct,20 as the effect "transcends the private
interests of the parties directly involved in the transaction and touches
the interests of the community at large. The mischief it creates is not
only a wrong to the payee or holder, but also an injury to the public
since the circulation of valueless commercial papers can very well
pollute the channels of trade and commerce, injure the banking
system and eventually hurt the welfare of society and the public
interest. Thus, paraphrasing Blacks definition, a drawer who issues an
unfunded check deliberately reneges on his private duties he owes his
fellow men or society in a manner contrary to accepted and customary
rule of right and duty, justice, honesty or good morals." 21
Consequently, we have held that the act of a person in issuing a check
knowing at the time of the issuance that he or she does not have
sufficient funds in, or credit with, the drawee bank for the payment of
the check in full upon its presentment, is also a manifestation of moral
turpitude.22
Respondents acts are more despicable. Not only did he
misappropriate the money of complainant; worse, he had the gall to

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

12

prepare receipts with the letterhead of the BID and issued checks to
cover up his misdeeds. Clearly, he does not deserve to continue, being
a member of the bar.
Time and again, we have declared that the practice of law is a noble
profession. It is a special privilege bestowed only upon those who are
competent intellectually, academically and morally. A lawyer must at
all times conduct himself, especially in his dealings with his clients and
the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond
reproach. He must faithfully perform his duties to society, to the bar,
to the courts and to his clients. A violation of the high standards of the
legal profession subjects the lawyer to administrative sanctions which
includes suspension and disbarment.23 More importantly, possession of
good moral character must be continuous as a requirement to the
enjoyment of the privilege of law practice; otherwise, the loss thereof
is a ground for the revocation of such privilege.24
Indeed, the primary objective of administrative cases against lawyers
is not only to punish and discipline the erring individual lawyers but
also to safeguard the administration of justice by protecting the courts
and the public from the misconduct of lawyers, and to remove from
the legal profession persons whose utter disregard of their lawyers
oath have proven them unfit to continue discharging the trust reposed
in them as members of the bar.25These pronouncement gain practical
significance in the case at bar considering that respondent was a
former member of the Board of Special Inquiry of the BID. It bears
stressing also that government lawyers who are public servants owe
fidelity to the public service, a public trust. As such, government
lawyers should be more sensitive to their professional obligations as
their disreputable conduct is more likely to be magnified in the public
eye.26
As a lawyer, who was also a public officer, respondent miserably failed
to cope with the strict demands and high standards of the legal
profession.
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court mandates that a
lawyer may be disbarred or suspended by this Court for any of the
following acts: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice; (3) gross misconduct in
office; (4) grossly immoral conduct; (5) conviction of a crime involving
moral turpitude ; (6) violation of the lawyers oath; (7) willful
disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and (8) willfully
appearing as an attorney for a party without authority to do so.27
In Atty. Vitriolo v. Atty. Dasig,28 we ordered the disbarment of a lawyer
who, during her tenure as OIC, Legal Services, Commission on Higher
Education, demanded sums of money as consideration for the approval
of applications and requests awaiting action by her office. In Lim v.
Barcelona,29 we also disbarred a senior lawyer of the National Labor

Relations Commission, who was caught by the National Bureau of


Investigation in the act of receiving and counting money extorted from
a certain person.
Respondents acts constitute gross misconduct; and consistent with
the need to maintain the high standards of the Bar and thus preserve
the faith of the public in the legal profession, respondent deserves the
ultimate penalty of expulsion from the esteemed brotherhood of
lawyers.30
WHEREFORE, Atty. Fred L. Gutierrez is hereby DISBARRED from the
practice of law and ordered to return the amount he received from the
complainant with legal interest from his receipt of the money until
payment. This case shall be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman
for criminal prosecution for violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Acts and to the Department of Justice for appropriate
administrative action. Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Bar
Confidant to be spread on the records of the respondent; the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines for distribution to all its chapters;
and the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all
courts throughout the country.
SO ORDERED.
A.M. No. 1418 August 31, 1976
JOSE MISAMIN, complainant,
vs.
ATTORNEY MIGUEL A. SAN JUAN, respondent.
RESOLUTION
FERNANDO, J.:
It certainly fails to reflect credit on a captain in the Metro Manila
Police Force and a member of the bar, respondent Miguel A. San Juan,
to be charged with being the legal representative of certain
establishments allegedly owned by Filipinos of Chinese descent and,
what is worse, with coercing an employee, complainant Jose Misamin,
to agree to drop the charges filed by him against his employer Tan
Hua, owner of New Cesar's Bakery, for the violation of the Minimum
Wage Law. There was a denial on the part of respondent. The matter
was referred to the Office of the Solicitor-General for investigation,
report and recommendation. Thereafter, it would seem there was a
change of heart on the part of complainant. That could very well be
the explanation for the non- appearance of the lawyer employed by
him at the scheduled hearings. The efforts of the Solicitor General to
get at the bottom of things were thus set at naught. Under the
circumstances, the outcome of such referral was to be expected. For
the law is rather exacting in its requirement that there be competent
and adequate proof to make out a case for malpractice. Necessarily,
the recommendation was one of the complaints being dismissed, This

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

13

is one of those instances then where this Court is left with hardly any
choice. Respondent cannot be found guilty of malpractice.
Respondent, as noted in the Report of the Solicitor-General, "admits
having appeared as counsel for the New Cesar's Bakery in the
proceeding before the NLRC while he held office as captain in the
Manila Metropolitan Police. However, he contends that the law did not
prohibit him from such isolated exercise of his profession. He contends
that his appearance as counsel, while holding a government position,
is not among the grounds provided by the Rules of Court for the
suspension or removal of attorneys. The respondent also denies having
conspired with the complainant Misamin's attorney in the NLRC
proceeding in order to trick the complainant into signing an admission
that he had been paid his separation pay. Likewise, the respondent
denies giving illegal protection to members of the Chinese community
in Sta. Cruz, Manila." 1
Then came a detailed account in such Report of the proceedings:
"Pursuant to the resolution of this Honorable Court of March 21, 1975,
the Solicitor General's Office set the case for investigation on July 2
and 3, 1975. The counsel for the complainant failed to appear, and the
investigation was reset to August 15, 1975. At the latter date, the
same counsel for complainant was absent. In both instances, the said
counsel did not file written motion for postponement but merely sent
the complainant to explain the reason for his absence. When the case
was again called for hearing on October 16, 1975, counsel for
complainant failed once more to appear. The complainant who was
present explained that his lawyer was busy "preparing an affidavit in
the Court of First Instance of Manila." When asked if he was willing to
proceed with the hearing' in the absence of his counsel, the
complainant declared, apparently without any prodding, that he
wished his complaint withdrawn. He explained that he brought the
present action in an outburst of anger believing that the respondent
San Juan took active part in the unjust dismissal of his complaint with
the NLRC. The complainant added that after reexamining his case, he
believed the respondent to be without fault and a truly good person." 2
The Report of the Solicitor-General did not take into account
respondent's practice of his profession notwithstanding his being a
police official, as "this is not embraced in Section 27, Rule 138 of the
Revised Rules of Court which provides the grounds for the suspension
or removal of an attorney. The respondent's appearance at the labor
proceeding notwithstanding that he was an incumbent police officer of
the City of Manila may appropriately be referred to the National Police
Commission and the Civil Service Commission." 3 As a matter of fact,
separate complaints on this ground have been filed and are under
investigation by the Office of the Mayor of Manila and the National

Police Commission." As for the charges that respondent conspired with


complainant's counsel to mislead complainant to admitting having'
received his separation pay and for giving illegal protection to aliens,
it is understandable why the Report of the Solicitor-General
recommended that they be dismissed for lack of evidence.
The conclusion arrived at by the Solicitor-General that the complaint
cannot prosper is in accordance with the settled law. As far back as in
re Tionko, 4 decided in 1922, the authoritative doctrine was set forth
by Justice Malcolm in this wise: "The serious consequences of
disbarment or suspension should follow only where there is a clear
preponderance of evidence against the respondent. The presumption
is that the attorney is innocent of the charges preferred and has
performed his duty as an officer of the court in accordance with his
oath." 5 The Tionko doctrine has been subsequently adhered to. 6
This resolution does not in any wise take into consideration whatever
violations there might have been of the Civil Service Law in view of
respondent practicing his profession while holding his position of
Captain in the Metro Manila police force. That is a matter to be
decided in the administrative proceeding as noted in the
recommendation of the Solicitor-General. Nonetheless, while the
charges have to be dismissed, still it would not be inappropriate for
respondent member of the bar to avoid all appearances of impropriety.
Certainly, the fact that the suspicion could be entertained that far from
living true to the concept of a public office being a public trust, he did
make use, not so much of whatever legal knowledge he possessed, but
the influence that laymen could assume was inherent in the office held
not only to frustrate the beneficent statutory scheme that labor be
justly compensated but also to be at the beck and call of what the
complainant called alien interest, is a matter that should not pass
unnoticed. Respondent, in his future actuations as a member of the
bar. should refrain from laying himself open to such doubts and
misgivings as to his fitness not only for the position occupied by him
but also for membership in the bar. He is not worthy of membership in
an honorable profession who does not even take care that his honor
remains unsullied
WHEREFORE, this administrative complaint against respondent
Miguel A. San Juan is dismissed for not having been duly proved. Let a
copy of this resolution be spread on his record.
Barredo, Antonio, Aquino and Concepcion, Jr., JJ., concur.

[G.R. Nos. 151809-12. April 12, 2005]

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

14

PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT


(PCGG), petitioner,
vs. SANDIGANBAYAN
(Fifth
Division), LUCIO C. TAN, CARMEN KHAO TAN,
FLORENCIO T. SANTOS, NATIVIDAD P. SANTOS,
DOMINGO CHUA, TAN HUI NEE, MARIANO TAN ENG
LIAN,
ESTATE
OF
BENITO
TAN
KEE
HIONG
(represented by TARCIANA C. TAN), FLORENCIO N.
SANTOS, JR., HARRY C. TAN, TAN ENG CHAN, CHUNG
POE KEE, MARIANO KHOO, MANUEL KHOO, MIGUEL
KHOO, JAIME KHOO, ELIZABETH KHOO, CELSO
RANOLA, WILLIAM T. WONG, ERNESTO B. LIM,
BENJAMIN T. ALBACITA, WILLY CO, ALLIED BANKING
CORP., ALLIED LEASING AND FINANCE CORPORATION,
ASIA BREWERY, INC., BASIC HOLDINGS CORP.,
FOREMOST FARMS, INC., FORTUNE TOBACCO CORP.,
GRANDSPAN
DEVELOPMENT
CORP.,
HIMMEL
INDUSTRIES, IRIS HOLDINGS AND DEVELOPMENT
CORP., JEWEL HOLDINGS, INC., MANUFACTURING
SERVICES AND TRADE CORP., MARANAW HOTELS AND
RESORT CORP., NORTHERN TOBACCO REDRYING
PLANT, PROGRESSIVE FARMS, INC., SHAREHOLDINGS,
INC., SIPALAY TRADING CORP., VIRGO HOLDINGS &
DEVELOPMENT CORP., and
ATTY. ESTELITO P.
MENDOZA, respondents.
DECISION
PUNO, J.:
This case is prima impressiones and it is weighted with
significance for it concerns on one hand, the efforts of the Bar to
upgrade the ethics of lawyers in government service and on the other,
its effect on the right of government to recruit competent counsel to
defend its interests.
In 1976, General Bank and Trust Company (GENBANK)
encountered
financial
difficulties.
GENBANK
had
extended
considerable financial support to Filcapital Development Corporation
causing it to incur daily overdrawings on its current account with the
Central Bank.[1] It was later found by the Central Bank that GENBANK
had approved various loans to directors, officers, stockholders and
related interests totaling P172.3 million, of which 59% was classified
as doubtful and P0.505 million as uncollectible.[2] As a bailout, the
Central Bank extended emergency loans to GENBANK which

reached a total of P310 million.[3] Despite the mega loans,


GENBANK failed to recover from its financial woes. On March 25,
1977, the Central
Bank
issued
a
resolution
declaring
GENBANK insolvent and unable to resume business with safety to its
depositors, creditors and the general public, andordering its
liquidation.[4] A public bidding of GENBANKs assets was held
from March 26 to 28, 1977, wherein the Lucio Tan group submitted
the winning bid.[5] Subsequently,former Solicitor General Estelito P.
Mendoza filed a petition with the then Court of First
Instance praying for the assistance and supervision of the court in
GENBANKs liquidation as mandated by Section 29 of Republic Act
No. 265.
In February 1986, the EDSA I revolution toppled the Marcos
government. One of the first acts of President Corazon C. Aquino was
to establish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG)
to recover the alleged ill-gotten wealth of former President Ferdinand
Marcos, his family and his cronies. Pursuant to this mandate, the
PCGG, on July 17, 1987, filed with the Sandiganbayan a complaint
for reversion, reconveyance, restitution, accounting and
damages against respondents Lucio Tan, Carmen Khao Tan,
Florencio T. Santos, Natividad P. Santos, Domingo Chua, Tan Hui Nee,
Mariano Tan Eng Lian, Estate of Benito Tan Kee Hiong, Florencio N.
Santos, Jr., Harry C. Tan, Tan Eng Chan, Chung Poe Kee, Mariano
Khoo, Manuel Khoo, Miguel Khoo, Jaime Khoo, Elizabeth Khoo, Celso
Ranola, William T. Wong, Ernesto B. Lim, Benjamin T. Albacita, Willy
Co, Allied Banking Corporation (Allied Bank), Allied Leasing and
Finance Corporation, Asia Brewery, Inc., Basic Holdings Corp.,
Foremost Farms, Inc., Fortune Tobacco Corporation, Grandspan
Development Corp., Himmel Industries, Iris Holdings and
Development Corp., Jewel Holdings, Inc., Manufacturing Services and
Trade Corp., Maranaw Hotels and Resort Corp., Northern Tobacco
Redrying Plant, Progressive Farms, Inc., Shareholdings, Inc., Sipalay
Trading Corp., Virgo Holdings & Development Corp., (collectively
referred to herein as respondents Tan, et al.), then President
Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, Panfilo O. Domingo, Cesar
Zalamea, Don Ferry and Gregorio Licaros. The case was docketed
as
Civil
Case
No.
0005 of
the
Second
Division
of
the Sandiganbayan.[6] In connection therewith, the PCGG issued
several writs of sequestration on properties allegedly acquired by
the above-named persons by taking advantage of their close
relationship and influence with former President Marcos.
Respondents Tan, et al. repaired to this Court and filed petitions
for certiorari, prohibition and injunction to nullify, among others, the
writs of sequestration issued by the PCGG. [7]After the filing of the

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

15

parties
comments,
this
Court
referred
the
cases
to
the Sandiganbayan for proper disposition. These cases were
docketed as Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099. In all these cases,
respondents Tan, et al. were represented by their counsel, former
Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, who has then resumed his
private practice of law.
On February 5, 1991, the PCGG filed motions to
disqualify respondent Mendoza as counsel for respondents Tan, et al.
with the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case Nos.
0005[8] and 0096-0099.[9] The motions alleged that respondent
Mendoza, as then Solicitor General [10] and counsel to Central
Bank, actively intervened in the liquidation of GENBANK, which
was subsequently acquired by respondents Tan, et al. and became
Allied Banking Corporation. Respondent Mendoza allegedly
intervened in the acquisition of GENBANK by respondents Tan, et al.
when, in his capacity as then Solicitor General, he advised the Central
Banks officials on the procedure to bring about GENBANKs
liquidation and appeared as counsel for the Central Bank in
connection with its petition for assistance in the liquidation of
GENBANK which he filed with the Court of First Instance (now
Regional Trial Court) of Manila and was docketed as Special
Proceeding No. 107812. The motions to disqualify invoked Rule 6.03
of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Rule 6.03 prohibits
former government lawyers from accepting engagement or
employment in connection with any matter in which he had intervened
while in said service.
On April
22,
1991 the
Second
Division
of
the Sandiganbayan issued a resolution denying PCGGs motion to
disqualify respondent Mendoza in Civil Case No. 0005. [11] It found that
the PCGG failed to prove the existence of an inconsistency between
respondent Mendozas former function as Solicitor General and his
present employment as counsel of the Lucio Tan group. It noted that
respondent Mendoza did not take a position adverse to that taken on
behalf of the Central Bank during his term as Solicitor General. [12] It
further ruled that respondent Mendozas appearance as counsel for
respondents Tan, et al. was beyond the one-year prohibited period
under Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. 6713 since he ceased to be
Solicitor General in the year 1986. The said section prohibits a former
public official or employee from practicing his profession in connection
with any matter before the office he used to be with within one year
from his resignation, retirement or separation from public office.
[13]
The PCGG did not seek any reconsideration of the ruling. [14]
It appears that Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 were transferred from
the Sandiganbayans Second Division to the Fifth Division.[15] In its

resolution
dated
July
11,
2001,
the
Fifth
Division
of
the Sandiganbayan denied the other PCGGs motion to disqualify
respondent Mendoza.[16] It adopted the resolution of its Second
Division dated April 22, 1991, and observed that the arguments were
the same in substance as the motion to disqualify filed in Civil Case
No. 0005. The PCGG sought reconsideration of the ruling but its
motion was denied in its resolution dated December 5, 2001. [17]
Hence, the recourse to this Court by the PCGG assailing the
resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December 5, 2001 of the Fifth
Division of the Sandiganbayan via a petition forcertiorari and
prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. [18] The
PCGG alleged that the Fifth Division acted with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the
assailed resolutions contending that: 1) Rule 6.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility prohibits a former government lawyer from
accepting employment in connection with any matter in which he
intervened; 2) the prohibition in the Rule is not time-bound; 3) that
Central Bank could not waive the objection to respondent Mendozas
appearance on behalf of the PCGG; and 4) the resolution in Civil Case
No. 0005 was interlocutory, thus res judicata does not apply.[19]
The petition at bar raises procedural and substantive issues of
law. In view, however, of the import and impact of Rule 6.03 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility to the legal profession and the
government, we shall cut our way and forthwith resolve the
substantive issue.
I
Substantive Issue
The key issue is whether Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility applies to respondent Mendoza. Again, the prohibition
states: A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept
engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which
he had intervened while in the said service.
I.A. The history of Rule 6.03
A proper resolution of this case necessitates that we trace
the historical lineage of Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ethical
standards for lawyers were pervasive in England and other parts of

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

16

Europe. The early statements of standards did not resemble modern


codes of conduct. They were not detailed or collected in one source
but surprisingly were comprehensive for their time. The principal
thrust of the standards was directed towards the litigation conduct of
lawyers. It underscored the central duty of truth and fairness in
litigation as superior to any obligation to the client. The formulations
of the litigation duties were at times intricate, including specific
pleading standards, an obligation to inform the court of falsehoods and
a duty to explore settlement alternatives. Most of the lawyer's other
basic duties -- competency, diligence, loyalty, confidentiality,
reasonable fees and service to the poor -- originated in the litigation
context, but ultimately had broader application to all aspects of a
lawyer's practice.
The forms of lawyer regulation in colonial and early postrevolutionary America did not differ markedly from those in
England. The colonies and early states used oaths, statutes, judicial
oversight, and procedural rules to govern attorney behavior. The
difference from England was in the pervasiveness and continuity of
such regulation. The standards set in England varied over time, but
the variation in early America was far greater. The American
regulation fluctuated within a single colony and differed from colony
to colony. Many regulations had the effect of setting some standards of
conduct, but the regulation was sporadic, leaving gaps in the
substantive standards. Only three of the traditional core duties can be
fairly characterized as pervasive in the formal, positive law of the
colonial and post-revolutionary period: the duties of litigation fairness,
competency and reasonable fees.[20]
The nineteenth century has been termed the dark ages of
legal ethics in the United States. By mid-century, American legal
reformers were filling the void in two ways. First, David Dudley Field,
the drafter of the highly influential New York Field Code, introduced
a new set of uniform standards of conduct for lawyers. This concise
statement of eight statutory duties became law in several states in the
second half of the nineteenth century. At the same time, legal
educators, such as David Hoffman and George Sharswood, and many
other lawyers were working to flesh out the broad outline of a lawyer's
duties. These reformers wrote about legal ethics in unprecedented
detail and thus brought a new level of understanding to a lawyer's
duties. A number of mid-nineteenth century laws and statutes, other
than the Field Code, governed lawyer behavior. A few forms of colonial
regulations e.g., the do no falsehood oath and the deceit
prohibitions -- persisted in some states. Procedural law continued to
directly, or indirectly, limit an attorney's litigation behavior. The
developing law of agency recognized basic duties of competence,

loyalty and safeguarding of client property. Evidence law started to


recognize with less equivocation the attorney-client privilege and its
underlying theory of confidentiality. Thus, all of the core duties, with
the likely exception of service to the poor, had some basis in formal
law. Yet, as in the colonial and early post-revolutionary periods, these
standards were isolated and did not provide a comprehensive
statement of a lawyer's duties. The reformers, by contrast, were more
comprehensive in their discussion of a lawyer's duties, and they
actually ushered a new era in American legal ethics. [21]
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a new form of
ethical standards began to guide lawyers in their practice the bar
association code of legal ethics. The bar codes were detailed ethical
standards formulated by lawyers for lawyers. They combined the two
primary sources of ethical guidance from the nineteenth century. Like
the academic discourses, the bar association codes gave detail to the
statutory statements of duty and the oaths of office. Unlike the
academic lectures, however, the bar association codes retained some
of the official imprimatur of the statutes and oaths. Over time, the bar
association codes became extremely popular that states adopted them
as binding rules of law. Critical to the development of the new codes
was the re-emergence of bar associations themselves. Local bar
associations formed sporadically during the colonial period, but they
disbanded by the early nineteenth century. In the late nineteenth
century, bar associations began to form again, picking up where their
colonial predecessors had left off. Many of the new bar associations,
most notably the Alabama State Bar Association and the American Bar
Association, assumed on the task of drafting substantive standards of
conduct for their members.[22]
In 1887, Alabama became the first state with a comprehensive
bar association code of ethics. The 1887 Alabama Code of Ethics was
the model for several states codes, and it was the foundation for the
American Bar Association's (ABA) 1908 Canons of Ethics.[23]
In 1917, the Philippine Bar found that the oath and duties of a
lawyer were insufficient to attain the full measure of public respect to
which the legal profession was entitled. In that year, the Philippine Bar
Association adopted as its own, Canons 1 to 32 of the ABA Canons of
Professional Ethics.[24]
As early as 1924, some ABA members have questioned the form
and function of the canons. Among their concerns was the revolving
door or the process by which lawyers and others temporarily enter
government service from private life and then leave it for large fees in
private practice, where they can exploit information, contacts, and
influence garnered in government service.[25] These concerns were
classified as adverse-interest conflicts and congruent-interest

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

17

conflicts. Adverse-interest conflicts exist where the matter in


which the former government lawyer represents a client in private
practice is substantially related to a matter that the lawyer dealt with
while employed by the government and the interests of the current
and former are adverse.[26] On the other hand, congruent-interest
representation conflicts are unique to government lawyers and
apply primarily to former government lawyers. [27] For several years,
the ABA attempted to correct and update the canons through new
canons, individual amendments and interpretative opinions. In 1928,
the ABA amended one canon and added thirteen new canons. [28] To
deal with problems peculiar to former government lawyers, Canon
36 was minted which disqualified them both for adverse-interest
conflicts and congruent-interest representation conflicts. [29] The
rationale for disqualification is rooted in a concern that the
government lawyers largely discretionary actions would be influenced
by the temptation to take action on behalf of the government client
that later could be to the advantage of parties who might later become
private practice clients.[30] Canon 36 provides, viz.:
36.
Retirement from judicial position or public employment
A lawyer should not accept employment as an advocate in any matter
upon the merits of which he has previously acted in a judicial capacity.
A lawyer, having once held public office or having been in the
public employ should not, after his retirement, accept
employment in connection with any matter he has investigated
or passed upon while in such office or employ.
Over the next thirty years, the ABA continued to amend many of
the canons and added Canons 46 and 47 in 1933 and 1937,
respectively.[31]
In 1946, the Philippine Bar Association again adopted as its
own Canons 33 to 47 of the ABA Canons of Professional Ethics.[32]
By the middle of the twentieth century, there was growing
consensus that the ABA Canons needed more meaningful revision. In
1964, the ABA President-elect Lewis Powell asked for the creation of a
committee to study the adequacy and effectiveness of the ABA
Canons. The committee recommended that the canons needed
substantial revision, in part because the ABA Canons failed to
distinguish between the inspirational and the proscriptive and were
thus unsuccessful in enforcement. The legal profession in the United
States likewise observed that Canon 36 of the ABA Canons of
Professional Ethics resulted in unnecessary disqualification of lawyers
for negligible participation in matters during their employment with
the government.

The unfairness of Canon 36 compelled ABA to replace it in


the 1969 ABA Model Code of Professional Responsibility.[33] The
basic ethical principles in the Code of Professional Responsibility were
supplemented by Disciplinary Rules that defined minimum rules of
conduct to which the lawyer must adhere. [34] In the case of Canon
9, DR 9-101(b)[35] became the applicable supplementary norm. The
drafting committee reformulated the canons into the Model Code of
Professional Responsibility, and, in August of 1969, the ABA House of
Delegates approved the Model Code.[36]
Despite these amendments, legal practitioners remained
unsatisfied with the results and indefinite standards set forth by DR 9101(b) and the Model Code of Professional Responsibility as a
whole. Thus, in August 1983, the ABA adopted new Model Rules
of Professional Responsibility. The Model Rules used the
restatement format, where the conduct standards were set-out in
rules, with comments following each rule. The new format was
intended to give better guidance and clarity for enforcement because
the only enforceable standards were the black letter Rules. The
Model Rules eliminated the broad canons altogether and reduced the
emphasis on narrative discussion, by placing comments after the rules
and limiting comment discussion to the content of the black letter
rules. The Model Rules made a number of substantive improvements
particularly with regard to conflicts of interests.[37] In particular, the
ABA did away with Canon 9, citing the hopeless dependence of
the concept of impropriety on the subjective views of anxious
clients as well as the norms indefinite nature.[38]
In cadence with these changes, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) adopted a proposed Code of Professional
Responsibility in 1980 which it submitted to this Court for
approval. The Code was drafted to reflect the local customs,
traditions, and practices of the bar and to conform with new
realities. On June 21, 1988, this Court promulgated the Code of
Professional Responsibility.[39] Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility deals particularly with former government lawyers, and
provides,viz.:
Rule 6.03 A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service,
accept engagement or employment in connection with any matter in
which he had intervened while in said service.
Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility retained the
general structure of paragraph 2, Canon 36 of the Canons of
Professional Ethics but replaced the expansive phrase investigated

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

18

and passed upon with the word intervened. It is, therefore,


properly
applicable
to
both adverse-interest
conflicts and congruent-interest conflicts.
The case at bar does not involve the adverse interest
aspect of Rule 6.03. Respondent Mendoza, it is conceded, has no
adverse interest problem when he acted as Solicitor General in Sp.
Proc. No. 107812 and later as counsel of respondents Tan, et al. in
Civil Case No. 0005 and Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 before
the Sandiganbayan. Nonetheless, there remains the issue of
whether there exists a congruent-interest conflict sufficient to
disqualify respondent Mendoza from representing respondents Tan, et
al.
I.B. The congruent interest aspect of Rule 6.03
The key to unlock Rule 6.03 lies in comprehending first, the
meaning of matter referred to in the rule and, second, the metes
and bounds of the intervention made by the former government
lawyer on the matter. The American Bar Association in its
Formal Opinion 342, defined matter as any discrete, isolatable act
as well as identifiable transaction or conduct involving a particular
situation and specific party, and not merely an act of drafting,
enforcing or interpreting government or agency procedures,
regulations or laws, or briefing abstract principles of law.
Firstly, it is critical that we pinpoint the matter which was the
subject of intervention by respondent Mendoza while he was the
Solicitor General. The PCGG relates the following acts of respondent
Mendoza as constituting the matter where he intervened as a
Solicitor General, viz:[40]
The PCGGs Case for Atty. Mendozas Disqualification
The PCGG imputes grave abuse of discretion on the part of
the Sandiganbayan (Fifth Division) in issuing the assailed Resolutions
dated July 11, 2001 and December 5, 2001 denying the motion to
disqualify Atty. Mendoza as counsel for respondents Tan, et al. The
PCGG insists that Atty. Mendoza, as then Solicitor General, actively
intervened in the closure of GENBANK by advising the Central Bank
on how to proceed with the said banks liquidation and even filing the
petition for its liquidation with the CFI of Manila.
As proof thereof, the PCGG cites the Memorandum dated March 29,
1977 prepared by certain key officials of the Central Bank, namely,
then Senior Deputy Governor Amado R. Brinas, then Deputy Governor
Jaime C. Laya, then Deputy Governor and General Counsel Gabriel C.

Singson, then Special Assistant to the Governor Carlota P. Valenzuela,


then Asistant to the Governor Arnulfo B. Aurellano and then Director
of Department of Commercial and Savings Bank Antonio T. Castro, Jr.,
where they averred that on March 28, 1977, they had a conference
with the Solicitor General (Atty. Mendoza), who advised them on how
to proceed with the liquidation of GENBANK. The pertinent portion of
the said memorandum states:
Immediately after said meeting, we had a conference with the Solicitor
General and he advised that the following procedure should be taken:
1. Management should submit a memorandum to the
Monetary Board reporting that studies and evaluation
had been made since the last examination of the bank as
of August 31, 1976 and it is believed that the bank can
not be reorganized or placed in a condition so that it may
be permitted to resume business with safety to its
depositors and creditors and the general public.
2. If the said report is confirmed by the Monetary Board, it
shall order the liquidation of the bank and indicate the
manner of its liquidation and approve a liquidation plan.
3. The Central Bank shall inform the principal stockholders
of Genbank of the foregoing decision to liquidate the
bank and the liquidation plan approved by the Monetary
Board.
4. The Solicitor General shall then file a petition in the
Court of First Instance reciting the proceedings which
had been taken and praying the assistance of the Court in
the liquidation of Genbank.
The PCGG further cites the Minutes No. 13 dated March 29, 1977 of
the Monetary Board where it was shown that Atty. Mendoza was
furnished copies of pertinent documents relating to GENBANK in
order to aid him in filing with the court the petition for assistance in
the banks liquidation. The pertinent portion of the said minutes reads:
The Board decided as follows:
...
E.

To authorize Management to furnish the Solicitor


General with a copy of the subject memorandum of
the Director, Department of Commercial and
Savings Bank dated March 29, 1977, together with
copies of:

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

19

1.

2.

3.

4.

Memorandum of the Deputy Governor,


Supervision and Examination Sector, to the
Monetary Board, dated March 25, 1977,
containing a report on the current situation of
Genbank;
Aide Memoire on the Antecedent Facts Re:
General Bank and Trust Co., dated March 23,
1977;
Memorandum of the Director, Department of
Commercial and Savings Bank, to the
Monetary Board, dated March 24, 1977,
submitting, pursuant to Section 29 of R.A. No.
265, as amended by P.D. No. 1007, a repot on
the state of insolvency of Genbank, together
with its attachments; and
Such other documents as may be necessary or
needed by the Solicitor General for his use in
then CFI-praying the assistance of the Court in
the liquidation of Genbank.

Beyond doubt, therefore, the matter or the act of respondent


Mendoza as Solicitor General involved in the case at bar is advising
the Central Bank, on how to proceed with the said banks liquidation
and even filing the petition for its liquidation with the CFI of Manila.
In fine, the Court should resolve whether his act of advising the
Central Bank on thelegal procedure to liquidate GENBANK is
included within the concept of matter under Rule 6.03. The
procedure of liquidation is given in black and white in Republic Act
No. 265, section 29, viz:
The provision reads in part:
SEC. 29. Proceedings upon insolvency. Whenever,
upon examination by the head of the appropriate supervising
or examining department or his examiners or agents into the
condition of any bank or non-bank financial intermediary
performing quasi-banking functions, it shall be disclosed that
the condition of the same is one of insolvency, or that its
continuance in business would involve probable loss to its
depositors or creditors, it shall be the duty of the department
head concerned forthwith, in writing, to inform the Monetary
Board of the facts, and the Board may, upon finding the
statements of the department head to be true, forbid the
institution to do business in the Philippines and shall
designate an official of the Central Bank or a person of

recognized competence in banking or finance, as receiver to


immediately take charge of its assets and liabilities, as
expeditiously as possible collect and gather all the assets and
administer the same for the benefit of its creditors,
exercising all the powers necessary for these purposes
including, but not limited to, bringing suits and foreclosing
mortgages in the name of the bank or non-bank financial
intermediary performing quasi-banking functions.
...
If the Monetary Board shall determine and confirm
within the said period that the bank or non-bank financial
intermediary performing quasi-banking functions is insolvent
or cannot resume business with safety to its depositors,
creditors and the general public, it shall, if the public
interest requires, order its liquidation, indicate the manner
of its liquidation and approve a liquidation plan. The Central
Bank shall, by the Solicitor General, file a petition in the
Court of First Instance reciting the proceedings which have
been taken and praying the assistance of the court in the
liquidation of such institution. The court shall have
jurisdiction in the same proceedings to adjudicate disputed
claims against the bank or non-bank financial intermediary
performing quasi-banking functions and enforce individual
liabilities of the stockholders and do all that is necessary to
preserve the assets of such institution and to implement the
liquidation plan approved by the Monetary Board. The
Monetary Board shall designate an official of the Central
Bank, or a person of recognized competence in banking or
finance, as liquidator who shall take over the functions of the
receiver previously appointed by the Monetary Board under
this Section. The liquidator shall, with all convenient speed,
convert the assets of the banking institution or non-bank
financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions to
money or sell, assign or otherwise dispose of the same to
creditors and other parties for the purpose of paying the
debts of such institution and he may, in the name of the bank
or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking
functions, institute such actions as may be necessary in the
appropriate court to collect and recover accounts and assets
of such institution.
The provisions of any law to the contrary
notwithstanding, the actions of the Monetary Board under
this Section and the second paragraph of Section 34 of this
Act shall be final and executory, and can be set aside by the

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

20

court only if there is convincing proof that the action is


plainly arbitrary and made in bad faith. No restraining order
or injunction shall be issued by the court enjoining the
Central Bank from implementing its actions under this
Section and the second paragraph of Section 34 of this Act,
unless there is convincing proof that the action of the
Monetary Board is plainly arbitrary and made in bad faith
and the petitioner or plaintiff files with the clerk or judge of
the court in which the action is pending a bond executed in
favor of the Central Bank, in an amount to be fixed by the
court. The restraining order or injunction shall be refused
or, if granted, shall be dissolved upon filing by the Central
Bank of a bond, which shall be in the form of cash or Central
Bank cashier(s) check, in an amount twice the amount of the
bond of the petitioner or plaintiff conditioned that it will pay
the damages which the petitioner or plaintiff may suffer by
the refusal or the dissolution of the injunction. The provisions
of Rule 58 of the New Rules of Court insofar as they are
applicable and not inconsistent with the provisions of this
Section shall govern the issuance and dissolution of the
restraining order or injunction contemplated in this Section.
Insolvency, under this Act, shall be understood to mean
the inability of a bank or non-bank financial intermediary
performing quasi-banking functions to pay its liabilities as
they fall due in the usual and ordinary course of business.
Provided, however, That this shall not include the inability to
pay of an otherwise non-insolvent bank or non-bank financial
intermediary performing quasi-banking functions caused by
extraordinary demands induced by financial panic commonly
evidenced by a run on the bank or non-bank financial
intermediary performing quasi-banking functions in the
banking or financial community.
The appointment of a conservator under Section 28-A
of this Act or the appointment of a receiver under this
Section shall be vested exclusively with the Monetary Board,
the provision of any law, general or special, to the contrary
notwithstanding. (As amended by PD Nos. 72, 1007, 1771 &
1827, Jan. 16, 1981)
We hold that this advice given by respondent Mendoza on the
procedure to liquidate GENBANK is not the matter contemplated
by Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. ABA Formal
Opinion No. 342 is clear as daylight in stressing that the
drafting, enforcing
or
interpreting government
or
agency

procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing abstract principles of law


are acts which do not fall within the scope of the term matter and
cannot disqualify.
Secondly, it can even be conceded for the sake of argument that
the above act of respondent Mendoza falls within the definition of
matter per ABA Formal Opinion No. 342. Be that as it may, the said
act of respondent Mendoza which is the matter involved in Sp.
Proc. No. 107812 is entirely different from the matter involved in
Civil Case No. 0096. Again, the plain facts speak for themselves. It is
given that respondent Mendoza had nothing to do with the decision of
the Central Bank to liquidate GENBANK. It is also given that he did
not participate in the sale of GENBANK to Allied Bank. The matter
where he got himself involved was in informing Central Bank on
the procedure provided by law to liquidate GENBANK thru the courts
and in filing the necessary petition in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 in the then
Court of First Instance. The subject matter of Sp. Proc. No.
107812, therefore, is not the same nor is related to but is
different from the subject matter in Civil Case No. 0096. Civil
Case No. 0096 involves the sequestration of the stocksowned by
respondents Tan, et al., in Allied Bank on the alleged ground that they
are ill-gotten. The case does not involve the liquidation of GENBANK.
Nor does it involve the sale of GENBANK to Allied Bank. Whether the
shares of stock of the reorganized Allied Bank are ill-gotten is far
removed from the issue of the dissolution and liquidation of
GENBANK. GENBANK was liquidated by the Central Bank due,
among others, to the alleged banking malpractices of its owners and
officers. In other words, the legality of the liquidation of GENBANK is
not an issue in the sequestration cases. Indeed, the jurisdiction of the
PCGG does not include the dissolution and liquidation of banks. It
goes without saying that Code 6.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility cannot apply to respondent Mendoza because his
alleged intervention while a Solicitor General in Sp. Proc. No.
107812 is an intervention on a matter different from the matter
involved in Civil Case No. 0096.
Thirdly, we now slide to the metes and bounds of
the intervention contemplated by Rule 6.03. Intervene means,
viz.:
1: to enter or appear as an irrelevant or extraneous feature or
circumstance . . . 2: to occur, fall, or come in between points of time or
events . . . 3: to come in or between by way of hindrance or
modification: INTERPOSE . . . 4: to occur or lie between two things
(Paris, where the same city lay on both sides of an intervening
river . . .)[41]

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

21

On the other hand, intervention is defined as:


1: the act or fact of intervening: INTERPOSITION; 2:
interference that may affect the interests of others.[42]
There are, therefore, two possible interpretations of the word
intervene. Under the first interpretation, intervene includes
participation in a proceeding even if the intervention is irrelevant or
has no effect or little influence.[43] Under the second interpretation,
intervene only includes an act of a person who has the power to
influence the subject proceedings.[44] We hold that this second meaning
is more appropriate to give to the word intervention under Rule 6.03
of the Code of Professional Responsibility in light of its history. The
evils sought to be remedied by the Rule do not exist where the
government lawyer does an act which can be considered as innocuous
such as x x x drafting, enforcing or interpreting government or
agency procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing abstract principles
of law.
In fine, the intervention cannot be insubstantial and
insignificant. Originally, Canon 36 provided that a former
government lawyer should not, after his retirement, accept
employment in connection with any matter which he has
investigated or passed upon while in such office or employ. As
aforediscussed, the broad sweep of the phrase which he has
investigated or passed upon resulted in unjust disqualification of
former government lawyers. The 1969 Code restricted its latitude,
hence, in DR 9-101(b), the prohibition extended only to a matter in
which the lawyer, while in the government service, had substantial
responsibility. The 1983 Model Rules further constricted the reach
of the rule. MR 1.11(a) provides that a lawyer shall not represent a
private client in connection with a matter in which the
lawyer participated personally and substantially as a public officer
or employee.
It is, however, alleged that the intervention of respondent
Mendoza in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 is significant and substantial. We
disagree. For one, the petition in the special proceedings is
an initiatory pleading, hence, it has to be signed by respondent
Mendoza as the then sitting Solicitor General. For another, the record
is arid as to the actualparticipation of respondent Mendoza in the
subsequent proceedings. Indeed, the case was in slumberville for a
long number of years. None of the parties pushed for its early
termination. Moreover, we note that the petition filed merely seeks
the assistance of the court in the liquidation of GENBANK. The
principal role of the court in this type of proceedings is to assist the
Central Bank in determining claims of creditors against the

GENBANK. The role of the court is not strictly as a court of justice but
as an agent to assist the Central Bank in determining the claims of
creditors. In such a proceeding, the participation of the Office of the
Solicitor General is not that of the usual court litigator protecting the
interest of government.
II
Balancing Policy Considerations
To be sure, Rule 6.03 of our Code of Professional Responsibility
represents a commendable effort on the part of the IBP to upgrade the
ethics of lawyers in the government service. As aforestressed, it is a
take-off from similar efforts especially by the ABA which have not been
without difficulties. To date, the legal profession in the United States
is still fine tuning its DR 9-101(b) rule.
In fathoming the depth and breadth of Rule 6.03 of our Code of
Professional Responsibility, the Court took account of various
policy considerations to assure that its interpretation and
application to the case at bar will achieve its end without necessarily
prejudicing other values of equal importance. Thus, the rule was not
interpreted to cause achilling effect on government recruitment
of able legal talent. At present, it is already difficult for government
to match compensation offered by the private sector and it is unlikely
that government will be able to reverse that situation. The observation
is not inaccurate that the only card that the government may play to
recruit lawyers is have them defer present income in return for the
experience and contacts that can later be exchanged for higher
income in private practice.[45] Rightly, Judge Kaufman warned that the
sacrifice of entering government service would be too great for most
men to endure should ethical rules prevent them from engaging in the
practice of a technical specialty which they devoted years in acquiring
and cause the firm with which they become associated to be
disqualified.[46] Indeed, to make government service more difficult to
exit can only make it less appealing to enter.[47]
In interpreting Rule 6.03, the Court also cast a harsh eye on its
use as a litigation tactic to harass opposing counsel as well as
deprive his client of competent legal representation. The danger that
the rule will be misused to bludgeon an opposing counsel is not a mere
guesswork. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has
noted the tactical use of motions to disqualify counsel in order to
delay proceedings, deprive the opposing party of counsel of its choice,
and harass and embarrass the opponent, and observed that the tactic

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

22

was so prevalent in large civil cases in recent years as to prompt


frequent judicial and academic commentary. [48] Even the United
States Supreme Court found no quarrel with the Court of Appeals
description of disqualification motions as a dangerous game. [49] In
the case at bar, the new attempt to disqualify respondent Mendoza is
difficult to divine. The disqualification of respondent Mendoza has
long been a dead issue. It was resuscitated after the lapse of many
years and only after PCGG has lost many legal incidents in the hands
of respondent Mendoza. For a fact, the recycled motion for
disqualification in the case at bar was filed more than four
years after the filing of the petitions forcertiorari, prohibition and
injunction with the Supreme Court which were subsequently
remanded to the Sandiganbayan and docketed as Civil Case Nos.
0096-0099.[50] At the very least, the circumstances under which the
motion to disqualify in the case at bar were refiled put petitioners
motive as highly suspect.
Similarly, the Court in interpreting Rule 6.03 was not
unconcerned with the prejudice to the client which will be caused
by its misapplication. It cannot be doubted that granting a
disqualification motion causes the client to lose not only the law firm
of choice, but probably an individual lawyer in whom the client has
confidence.[51] The client with a disqualified lawyer must start again
often without the benefit of the work done by the latter. [52] The effects
of this prejudice to the right to choose an effective counsel cannot be
overstated for it can result in denial of due process.
The Court has to consider also the possible adverse effect
of a truncated reading of the rule on the official independence
of lawyers in the government service. According to Prof. Morgan:
An individual who has the security of knowing he or she can find
private employment upon leaving the government is free to work
vigorously, challenge official positions when he or she believes them to
be in error, and resist illegal demands by superiors. An employee who
lacks this assurance of private employment does not enjoy such
freedom.[53] He adds: Any system that affects the right to take a new
job affects the ability to quit the old job and any limit on the ability to
quit inhibits official independence. [54] The case at bar involves the
position of Solicitor General, the office once occupied by
respondent Mendoza. It cannot be overly stressed that the position
of Solicitor General should be endowed with a great degree of
independence. It is this independence that allows the Solicitor
General to recommend acquittal of the innocent; it is this
independence that gives him the right to refuse to defend officials who
violate the trust of their office. Any undue dimunition of the

independence of the Solicitor General will have a corrosive effect on


the rule of law.
No less significant a consideration is the deprivation of the
former government lawyer of the freedom to exercise his
profession. Given the current state of our law, the disqualification of a
former government lawyer may extend to all members of his law firm.
[55]
Former government lawyers stand in danger of becoming
the lepers of the legal profession.
It is, however, proffered that the mischief sought to be remedied
by Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is the possible
appearance of impropriety and loss of public confidence in
government. But as well observed, the accuracy of gauging public
perceptions is a highly speculative exercise at best [56] which can lead
to untoward results.[57]No less than Judge Kaufman doubts that the
lessening of restrictions as to former government attorneys will have
any detrimental effect on that free flow of information between the
government-client and its attorneys which the canons seek to protect.
[58]
Notably, the appearance of impropriety theory has been
rejected in the 1983 ABA Model Rules of Professional
Conduct[59] and some courts have abandoned per se disqualification
based on Canons 4 and 9 when an actual conflict of interest exists, and
demand an evaluation of the interests of the defendant, government,
the witnesses in the case, and the public.[60]
It is also submitted that the Court should apply Rule 6.03 in all its
strictness for it correctly disfavors lawyers who switch sides. It is
claimed that switching sides carries the danger that former
government employee may compromise confidential official
information in the process. But this concern does not cast a shadow
in the case at bar. As afore-discussed, the act of respondent Mendoza
in informing the Central Bank on the procedure how to liquidate
GENBANK is a different matter from the subject matter of Civil Case
No. 0005 which is about the sequestration of the shares of
respondents Tan, et al., in Allied Bank. Consequently, the danger that
confidential official information might be divulged is nil, if not
inexistent. To be sure, there are no inconsistent sides to be
bothered about in the case at bar. For there is no question that in
lawyering for respondents Tan, et al., respondent Mendoza is not
working against the interest of Central Bank. On the contrary, he is
indirectly defending the validity of the action of Central Bank in
liquidating GENBANK and selling it later to Allied Bank. Their
interests coincide instead of colliding. It is for this reason that
Central Bank offered no objection to the lawyering of respondent
Mendoza in Civil Case No. 0005 in defense of respondents Tan, et
al. There is no switching of sides for no two sides are involved.

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

23

It is also urged that the Court should consider that Rule 6.03 is
intended to avoid conflict of loyalties, i.e., that a government
employee might be subject to a conflict of loyalties while still in
government service.[61] The example given by the proponents of this
argument is that a lawyer who plans to work for the company that he
or she is currently charged with prosecuting might be tempted to
prosecute less vigorously.[62] In the cautionary words of the
Association of the Bar Committee in 1960: The greatest public risks
arising from post employment conduct may well occur during the
period of employment through the dampening of aggressive
administration of government policies. [63] Prof. Morgan, however,
considers this concern as probably excessive. [64] He opines x x x it
is hard to imagine that a private firm would feel secure hiding
someone who had just been disloyal to his or her last client the
government. Interviews with lawyers consistently confirm that law
firms want the best government lawyers the ones who were hardest
to beat not the least qualified or least vigorous advocates. [65] But
again, this particular concern is a non factor in the case at bar.
There is no charge against respondent Mendoza that he advised
Central Bank on how to liquidate GENBANK with an eye in later
defending respondents Tan, et al. of Allied Bank. Indeed, he continues
defending both the interests of Central Bank and respondents Tan, et
al. in the above cases.
Likewise, the Court is nudged to consider the need to curtail what
is perceived as the excessive influence of former officials or
their clout.[66] Prof. Morgan again warns against extending this
concern too far. He explains the rationale for his warning, viz: Much
of what appears to be an employees influence may actually be the
power or authority of his or her position, power that evaporates
quickly upon departure from government x x x. [67] More, he contends
that the concern can be demeaning to those sitting in government. To
quote him further: x x x The idea that, present officials make
significant decisions based on friendship rather than on the merit says
more about the present officials than about their former co-worker
friends. It implies a lack of will or talent, or both, in federal officials
that does not seem justified or intended, and it ignores the possibility
that the officials will tend to disfavor their friends in order to avoid
even the appearance of favoritism.[68]
III
The question of fairness
Mr. Justices Panganiban and Carpio are of the view, among
others, that the congruent interest prong of Rule 6.03 of the Code of

Professional Responsibility should be subject to a prescriptive period.


Mr. Justice Tinga opines that the rule cannot apply retroactively to
respondent Mendoza. Obviously, and rightly so, they are disquieted by
the fact that (1) when respondent Mendoza was the Solicitor General,
Rule 6.03 has not yet adopted by the IBP and approved by this Court,
and (2) the bid to disqualify respondent Mendoza was made after the
lapse of time whose length cannot, by any standard, qualify as
reasonable. At bottom, the point they make relates to the unfairness of
the rule if applied without any prescriptive period and retroactively, at
that. Their concern is legitimate and deserves to be initially
addressed by the IBP and our Committee on Revision of the Rules of
Court.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition assailing the resolutions dated
July 11, 2001 and December 5, 2001 of the Fifth Division of
the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 is denied.
No cost.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, SandovalGutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona and Garcia, JJ., concur.
Panganiban and Tinga, JJ., Please see separate opinion.
Carpio-Morales and Callejo, Sr., JJ., Please see dissenting opinion.
Azcuna, J., I was former PCGG Chair.
Chico-Nazario, J., No part.
A.M. No. 491 October 6, 1989
IN THE MATTER OF THE INQUIRY INTO THE 1989 ELECTIONS
OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES.
PER CURIAM:
In the election of the national officers of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (hereafter "IBP") held on June 3, 1989 at the Philippine
International Convention Center (or PICC), the following were elected
by the House of Delegates (composed of 120 chapter presidents or
their alternates) and proclaimed as officers:

NAME

Atty. Violeta Drilon

POSITION

President

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

24

Atty. Teodoro Almine

Governor & Vice-President for Bicolandia

Atty. Bella Tiro

Executive Vice-President

Atty. Porfirio Siyangco

Governor & Vice-President for Eastern Visayas

Atty. Salvador Lao

Chairman, House of Delegates

Atty. Ricardo Teruel

Governor & Vice-President for Western Visayas

Atty. Renato F. Ronquillo

Secretary, House of Delegates

Atty. Gladys Tiongco

Governor & Vice-President for Eastern Mindanao

Atty. Teodoro Quicoy

Treasurer, House of Delegates

Atty. Simeon Datumanong

Governor & Vice-President for Western Mindanao

Atty. Oscar Badelles

Sergeant at Arms, House of Delegates

Atty. Justiniano Cortes

Governor & Vice-President for

Atty. Ciriaco Atienza

Governor & Vice-President for

Atty. Mario Jalandoni

Governor & Vice-President for

Atty. Jose Aguilar Grapilon

Governor & Vice-President for

The newly-elected officers were set to take the their oath of office on
July 4,1989, before the Supreme Court en banc. However,disturbed by
the widespread reports received by some members of the Court from
lawyers who had witnessed or participated in the proceedings and the
adverse comments published in the columns of some newspapers
Northern Luzon about the intensive electioneering and overspending by the
candidates, led by the main protagonists for the office of president of
the association, namely, Attorneys Nereo Paculdo, Ramon Nisce, and
Violeta C. Drilon, the alleged use of government planes, and the
officious intervention of certain public officials to influence the voting,
Central Luzon all of which were done in violation of the IBP By-Laws which prohibit
such activities. The Supreme Court en banc, exercising its power of
supervision over the Integrated Bar, resolved to suspend the oathtaking of the IBP officers-elect and to inquire into the veracity of the
reports.
Metro Manila It should be stated at the outset that the election process itself (i.e. the
voting and the canvassing of votes on June 3, 1989) which was
conducted by the "IBP Comelec," headed by Justice Reynato Puno of
the Court of Appeals, was unanimously adjudged by the participants
Southern Luzon and observers to be above board. For Justice Puno took it upon himself
to device safeguards to prevent tampering with, and marking of, the
ballots.

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

25

What the Court viewed with considerable concern was the reported
electioneering and extravagance that characterized the campaign
conducted by the three candidates for president of the IBP.
I. MEDIA ACCOUNT OF THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN.
Emil Jurado, in his column "IBP Group Questions Drilon Election"
(Manila Standard, Sunday, June 17, 1989), Luis Mauricio, in two
successive columns: "The Invertebrated Bar" (Malaya, June 10, 1989)
and "The Disintegrating Bar" (Malaya, June 20, 1989), and Teodoro
Locsin Jr. in an article, entitled "Pam-Pam" (The Philippines Free
Press, July 8,1989), and the editorial, entitled 'Wrong Forum" of the
Daily Globe (June 8, 1989), were unanimously critical of the "votebuying and pressure tactics" allegedly employed in the campaign by
the three principal candidates: Attys. Violeta C. Drilon, Nereo Paculdo
and Ramon Nisce who reportedly "poured heart, soul, money and
influence to win over the 120 IBP delegates."
Mr. Jurado mentioned the resentment of Atty. Drilon's rivals who felt at
a disadvantage because Atty. Drilon allegedly used PNB helicopters to
visit far-flung IBP chapters on the pretext of distributing Bigay Puso
donations, and she had the added advantage of having regional
directors and labor arbiters of the Department of Labor and
Employment (who had been granted leaves of absence by her
husband, the Labor Secretary) campaigning for her. Jurado's
informants alleged that there was rampant vote-buying by some
members of the U.P. Sigma Rho Fraternity (Secretary Drilon's
fraternity), as well as by some lawyers of ACCRA (Angara, Concepcion,
Cruz, Regala and Abello Law Office) where Mrs. Drilon is employed,
and that government positions were promised to others by the office of
the Labor Secretary.
Mr. Mauricio in his column wrote about the same matters and, in
addition, mentioned "talk of personnel of the Department of Labor,
especially conciliators and employers, notably Chinese Filipinos,
giving aid and comfort to her (Atty. Drilon's) candidacy," the billeting
of out-of-town delegates in plush hotels where they were reportedly
"wined and dined continuously, womened and subjected to endless
haggling over the price of their votes x x x" which allegedly "ranged
from Pl5,000 to P20,000, and, on the day of the election, some twelve
to twenty votes which were believed crucial, appreciated to P50,000."
In his second column, Mr. Mauricio mentioned "how a top official of
the judiciary allegedly involved himself in IBP politics on election day
by closeting himself with campaigners as they plotted their election
strategy in a room of the PICC (the Philippine International
Convention Center where the convention/election were held) during a
recess x x x."
Mr. Locsin in his column and editorial substantially re-echoed
Mauricio's reports with some embellishments.
II. THE COURT'S DECISION TO INVESTIGATE.

Responding to the critical reports, the Court, in its en banc resolution


dated June 15, 1989, directed the outgoing and incoming members of
the IBP Board of Governors, the principal officers and Chairman of the
House of Delegates to appear before it on Tuesday, June 20, 1989, at
2:00 o'clock p.m., and there to inform the Court on the veracity of the
aforementioned reports and to recommend, for the consideration of
the Court, appropriate approaches to the problem of confirming and
strengthening adherence to the fundamental principles of the IBP.
In that resolution the Court "call[ed] to mind that a basic postulate of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), heavily stressed at the time
of its organization and commencement of existence, is that the IBP
shall be non-political in character and that there shall be no lobbying
nor campaigning in the choice of members of the Board of Governors
and of the House of Delegates, and of the IBP officers, national, or
regional, or chapter. The fundamental assumption was that officers,
delegates and governors would be chosen on the basis of professional
merit and willingness and ability to serve."
The resolution went on to say that the "Court is deeply disturbed to
note that in connection with the election of members of the Board of
Governors and of the House of Delegates, there is a widespread belief,
based on reports carried by media and transmitted as well by word of
mouth, that there was extensive and intensive campaigning by
candidates for IBP positions as well as expenditure of considerable
sums of money by candidates, including vote-buying, direct or
indirect."
The venerable retired Supreme Court Justice and IBP President
Emeritus, Jose B.L. Reyes, attended the dialogue, upon invitation of
the Court, to give counsel and advice. The meeting between the
Court en banc on the one hand, and the outgoing and in coming IBP
officers on the other, was an informal one. Thereafter, the Court
resolved to conduct a formal inquiry to determine whether the
prohibited acts and activities enumerated in the IBP By-Laws were
committed before and during the 1989 elections of IBP's national
officers.
The Court en banc formed a committee and designated Senior
Associate Justice Andres R. Narvasa, as Chairman, and Associate
Justices Teodoro R. Padilla, Emilio A. Gancayco, Abraham F.
Sarmiento, and Carolina C. Grio-Aquino, as members, to conduct the
inquiry. The Clerk of Court, Atty. Daniel Martinez, acted as the
committee's Recording Secretary.
A total of forty-nine (49) witnesses appeared and testified in response
to subpoenas issued by the Court to shed light on the conduct of the
elections. The managers of three five-star hotels the Philippine Plaza,
the Hyatt, and the Holiday Inn where the three protagonists (Drilon,
Nisce and Paculdo) allegedly set up their respective headquarters and
where they billeted their supporters were summoned. The officer of
the Philippine National Bank and the Air Transport Office were called

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

26

to enlighten the Court on the charge that an IBP presidential


candidate and the members of her slate used PNB planes to ferry them
to distant places in their campaign to win the votes of delegates. The
Philippine Airlines officials were called to testify on the charge that
some candidates gave free air fares to delegates to the convention.
Officials of the Labor Department were also called to enable the Court
to ascertain the truth of the reports that labor officials openly
campaigned or worked for the election of Atty. Drilon.
The newspaper columnists, Messrs. Luis Mauricio, Jesus Bigornia and
Emil Jurado were subpoenaed to determine the nature of their sources
of information relative to the IBP elections. Their stories were based,
they said, on letters, phone calls and personal interviews with persons
who claimed to have knowledge of the facts, but whom they, invoking
the Press Freedom Law, refused to identify.
The Committee has since submitted its Report after receiving, and
analyzing and assessing evidence given by such persons as were
perceived to have direct and personal knowledge of the relevant facts;
and the Court, after deliberating thereon, has Resolved to accept and
adopt the same.
III. PROHIBITED ACTS AND PRACTICES UNDER IBP BY-LAWS.
Article I, Section 4 of the IBP By-Laws emphasizes the "strictly nonpolitical" character of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, thus:
"SEC. 4. Non-political Bar. The Integrated Bar is
strictly non-political, and every activity tending to
impair this basic feature is strictly prohibited and shall
be penalized accordingly. No lawyer holding an
elective, judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office in
the Government or any political subdivision or
instrumentality thereof shall be eligible for election or
appointment to any position in the Integrated Bar or
any Chapter thereof. A Delegate, Governor, officer or
employee of the Integrated Bar, or an officer or
employee of any Chapter thereof shall be
considered ipso facto resigned from his position as of
the moment he files his certificate of candidacy for any
elective public office or accepts appointment to any
judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office in the
Government or any political subdivision or
instrumentality thereof. "'
Section 14 of the same By-Laws enumerates the
prohibited acts relative to IBP elections:
SEC. 14. Prohibited acts and practices relative to
elections. The following acts and practices relative
to election are prohibited, whether committed by a
candidate for any elective office in the Integrated Bar
or by any other member, directly or indirectly, in any
form or manner, by himself or through another person:

(a) Distribution, except on election day, of election


campaign material;
(b) Distribution, on election day, of election campaign
material other than a statement of the biodata of a
candidate on not more than one page of a legal-size
sheet of paper; or causing distribution of such
statement to be done by persons other than those
authorized by the officer presiding at the elections;
(c) Campaigning for or against any candidate, while
holding an elective, judicial, quasi-judicial or
prosecutory office in the Government or any political
subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof;
(d) Formation of tickets, single slates, or combinations
of candidates, as well as the advertisement thereof;
(e) For the purpose of inducing or influencing a
member to withhold his vote, or to vote for or against a
candidate, (1) payment of the dues or other
indebtedness of any member; (2) giving of food, drink,
entertainment, transportation or any article of value,
or any similar consideration to any person; or (3)
making a promise or causing an expenditure to be
made, offered or promised to any person."
Section 12(d) of the By-Laws prescribes sanctions for violations of the
above rules:
(d) Any violation of the rules governing elections or
commission of any of the prohibited acts and practices
defined in Section 14 prohibited Acts and Practices
relative to elections) of the by-laws of the Integrated
Bar shall be a ground for the disqualification of a
candidate or his removal from office if elected, without
prejudice to the imposition of sanctions upon any
erring member pursuant to the By-laws of the
Integrated Bar.
At the formal investigation which was conducted by the investigating
committee, the following violations were established:
(1) Prohibited campaigning and solicitation of votes by the candidates
for president, executive vice-president, the officers of candidate the
House of Delegates and Board of Governors.
The three candidates for IBP President Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo
began travelling around the country to solicit the votes of delegates as
early as April 1989. Upon the invitation of IBP President, Leon Garcia,
Jr. (t.s.n., July 13,1989, p. 4), they attended the Bench and Bar
dialogues held in Cotabato in April 1989 (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, p. 123),
in Tagaytay City, Pampanga, and in Baguio City (during the conference
of chapter presidents of Northern Luzon (t.s.n., July 3,1989, p. 113;
t.s.n., July 10, p. 41; t.s.n., July 13, p. 47) where they announced their
candidacies and met the chapter presidents.

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

27

Atty. Nisce admitted that he went around the country seeking the help
of IBP chapter officers, soliciting their votes, and securing their
written endorsements. He personally hand-carried nomination forms
and requested the chapter presidents and delegates to fill up and sign
the forms to formalize their commitment to his nomination for IBP
President. He started campaigning and distributing the nomination
forms in March 1989 after the chapter elections which determined the
membership of the House of Delegates composed of the 120 chapter
presidents (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, pp. 82-86). He obtained forty (40)
commitments. He submitted photocopies of his nomination forms
which read:
"Nomination Form
I Join in Nominating
RAMON M. NISCE
as
National President of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines
______________ _______________
Chapter Signature"
Among those who signed the nomination forms were: Onofre P. Tejada,
Candido P. Balbin, Jr., Conizado V. Posadas, Quirico L. Quirico Ernesto
S. Salun-at, Gloria C. Agunos, Oscar B. Bernardo, Feliciano F. Wycoco,
Amor L. Ibarra, Jose M. Atienza, Jose N. Contreras, Romeo T. Mendoza,
Leo C. Medialdea, Jr., Paulino G. Clarin, Julius Z. Neil, Roem J.
Arbolado Democrito M. Perez, Abelardo Fermin, Diosdado B. Villarin,
Jr., Daniel C. Macaraeg, Confesor R. Sansano Dionisio E. Bala, Jr.,
Emesto A. Amores, Romeo V. Pefianco, Augurio C. Pamintuan, Atlee T.
Viray, Ceferino C. Cabanas, Jose S. Buban, Diosdado Z. Reloj, Jr., Cesar
C. Viola, Oscar C. Fernandez, Ricardo B. Teruel Rodrigo R. Flores,
Sixto Marella, Jr., Arsenio C. Villalon, Renato F. Ronquillo, Antonio G.
Nalapo Romualdo A. Din Jr., Jose P. Icaonapo Jr., and Manuel S. Person.
Atty. Nisce admitted that he reserved rooms at the Hyatt Hotel based
on the commitments he had obtained (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, pp. 82-85).
Unfortunately, despite those formal commitments, he obtained only 14
votes in the election (t.s.n., June 29, 1 989, p. 86). The reason, he said,
is that. some of those who had committed their votes to him were
"manipulated, intimidated, pressured, or remunerated" (t.s.n., June
29,1989, pp. 8695; Exhibit "M-4-Nisce," t.s.n., July 4, 1989, pp. 100-1
04).
(2) Use of PNB plane in the campaign.
The records of the Philippine National Bank (Exhibit C-1-Crudo and
Exhibit C-2-Crudo) show that Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. of
the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR)
borrowed a plane from the Philippine National Bank for his Bicol
CORD (Cabinet Officers for Regional Development) Assistant,

Undersecretary Antonio Tria. The plane manifest (Exh. C-2-Crudo)


listed Atty. Violeta Drilon, Arturo Tusi (Tiu), Assistant Secretary for
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Tony Tria, Atty. Gladys
Tiongco, and Amy Wong. Except for Tony Tria, the rest of the
passengers were IBP candidates.
Atty. Drilon admitted that she "hitched" a ride on a PNB plane. She
said that she was informed by Atty. Tiu about the availability of a PNB
plane (t.s.n., July 3,1989, pp. 116-118).
Atty. Tiu, who ran for the position of IBP executive vice-president in
the Drilon ticket, testified that sometime in May 1989 he failed to
obtain booking from the Philippine Airlines for the projected trip of his
group to Bicol. He went to the DENR allegedly to follow up some
papers for a client. While at the DENR, he learned that Assistant
Secretary Tria was going on an official business in Bicol for Secretary
Fulgencio Factoran and that he would be taking a PNB plane. As
Assistant Secretary Tria is his fraternity brother, he asked if he,
together with the Drilon group, could hitch a ride on the plane to
Bicol. His request was granted. Their purpose in going to Bicol was to
assess their chances in the IBP elections. The Drilon company talked
with the IBP chapter presidents in Daet, Naga, and Legaspi, and asked
for their support (t.s.n., July 10, 1989, pp. 549).
Assistant Secretary Antonio S. Tria confirmed the use of a PNB plane
by Atty. Drilon and her group. He recalled that on May 23,1989, DENR
Secretary Factoran instructed him to go to Bicol to monitor certain
regional development projects there and to survey the effect of the
typhoon that hit the region in the middle of May. On the same day,
Atty. Tiu, a fraternity brother (meaning that Tiu belongs to the Sigma
Rho fraternity) went to the DENR office and requested the Secretary
(Factoran) if he (Tiu) could be allowed to hitch a ride on the plane.
Assistant Secretary Tria, together with the Drilon group which
included Attorneys Drilon, Grapilon, Amy Wong, Gladys Tiongco, and
Tiu, took off at the Domestic Airport bound for Naga, Daet and
Legaspi. In Legaspi the Drilon group had lunch with Atty. Vicente Real,
Jr., an IBP chapter president (t.s.n., July 10, 1989, pp. 54-69).
(3) Formation of tickets and single slates.
The three candidates, Paculdo, Nisce and Drilon, admitted having
formed their own slates for the election of IBP national officers on
June 3, 1989.
Atty. Paculdo's slate consisted of himself for President; Bella D. Tiro,
for Executive Vice-President; and for Governors: Justiniano P. Cortez
(Northern Luzon), Oscar C. Fernandez (Central Luzon), Mario C.V.
Jalandoni (Greater Manila), Petronilo A. de la Cruz (Southern Luzon),
Teodorico C. Almine, Jr. (Bicolandia), Ricardo B. Teruel (Western
Visayas), Porfirio P. Siyangco (Eastern Visayas), Jesus S. Anonat
(Western Mindanao), Guerrero A. Adaza, Jr. (Eastern Mindanao)
(Exhibit M-Nisce).

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

28

The Drilon ticket consisted of. Violeta C. Drilon for President, Arturo
Tiu for Executive Vice President, Salvador Lao for Chairman of the
House of Delegates, and, for Governors: Basil Rupisan (Northern
'Luzon), Acong Atienza (Central Luzon), Amy Wong (Metro Manila),
Jose Grapilon (Southern Tagalog), Teodoro Almine (Bicolandia),
Baldomero Estenzo (Eastern Visayas), Joelito Barrera (Western
Visayas), Gladys Tiongco (Eastern Mindanao), Simeon Datumanong
(Western Mindanao) (Exhibit M-1-Nisce).
Atty. Ramon N. Nisce's line-up listed himself and Confessor B. Sansano
Benjamin B. Bernardino, Antonio L. Nalapo Renato F. Ronquillo, Gloria
C. Agunos, Mario Valderrama, Candido P. Balbin Jr., Oscar C.
Fernandez, Cesar G. Viola, Leo C. Medialdea, Jr., Vicente P. Tordilla, Jr.,
Jose S. Buban, Joel A. Llosa, Jesus T. Albacite and Oscar V. Badelles.
(4) Giving free transportation to out-of-town delegates and alternates.
Atty. Nisce admitted having bought plane tickets for some delegates to
the convention. He mentioned Oscar Badelles to whom he gave four
round-trip tickets (worth about P10,000) from Iligan City to Manila
and back. Badelles was a voting delegate. Nisce, however, failed to get
a written commitment from him because Atty. Medialdea assured him
(Nisce) "sigurado na 'yan, h'wag mo nang papirmahin." Badelles won
as sergeant-at-arms, not in Nisce's ticket, but in that of Drilon.
Badelles admitted that Nisce sent him three airplane tickets, but he
Badelles said that he did not use them, because if he did, he would be
committed to Nisce, and he Badelles did not want to be committed
(t.s.n., July 4,1989, pp. 77-79, 95-96).
Nisce also sent a plane ticket to Atty. Atilano, who was his candidate,
and another ticket to Mrs. Linda Lim of Zamboanga. Records of the
Philippine Airlines showed that Atty. Nisce paid for the plane tickets of
Vicente Real, Jr. (Exh. D-1-Calica), Romeo Fortes (Exh. D-1-Calica),
Cesar Batica (Exh. D-2-Calica), Jose Buban of Leyte (Exh. D-2-Calica),
Delsanto Resuello (Exh. D-3- Calica), and Ceferino Cabanas (Exh. D-3Calica).
In spite of his efforts and expense, only one of Nisce's candidates won:
Renato Ronquillo of Manila 4, as Secretary of the House of Delegates
(t.s.n. July 3, p. 161).
(5) Giving free hotel accommodations, food, drinks, entertainment to
delegates.
(a) ATTY. NEREO PACULDO
Atty. Paculdo alleged that he booked 24 regular rooms and three suites
at the Holiday Inn, which served as his headquarters. The 24 rooms
were to be occupied by his staff (mostly ladies) and the IBP delegates.
The three suites were to be occupied by himself, the officers of the
Capitol Bar Association, and Atty. Mario Jalandoni. He paid P150,000
for the hotel bills of his delegates at the Holiday Inn, where a room
cost P990 per day with breakfast.
Those listed as guests of Atty. Paculdo at the Holiday Inn were: Emesto
C. Perez, Tolomeo Ligutan Judge Alfonso Combong, Ricardo Caliwag,

Antonio Bisnar, Benedicto Balajadia, Jesus Castro, Restituto


Villanueva, Serapio Cribe Juanita Subia, Teodorico J. Almine, Rudy
Gumban, Roem Arbolado, Ricardo Teruel, Shirley Moises, Ramon
Roco, Alberto Trinidad, Teodoro Quicoy Manito Lucero, Fred Cledera
Vicente Tordilla, Julian Ocampo, Francisco Felizmenio Marvel
Clavecilla, Amador Capiral, Eufronio Maristela, Porfirio Siyangco,
William Llanes, Jr., Marciano Neri, Guerrero Adaza, Diosdado Peralta,
Luis C. Formilleza, Jr., Democrito Perez, Bruno Flores, Dennis Rendon,
Judge Ceferino Chan, Mario Jalandoni, Kenneth Siruelo Bella Tiro,
Antonio Santos, Tiburcio Edano James Tan, Cesilo A. Adaza, Francisco
Roxas, Angelita Gacutan, Jesse Pimentel, Judge Jaime Hamoy, Jesus
Anonat, Carlos Egay, Judge Carlito Eisma, Judge Jesus Carbon, Joven
Zach, and Benjamin Padon.
Noel de Guzman, Holiday Inn's credit manager, testified that Atty.
Paculdo booked 52 (not 24) rooms, including the presidential suite,
which was used as the Secretariat. The group bookings were made by
Atty. Gloria Paculdo, the wife of Nereo Paculdo (t.s.n. June 28, 1989,
pp. 63-68). The total sum of P227,114.89 was paid to Holiday Inn for
the use of the rooms.
(b) ATTY. VIOLETA C. DRILON
The delegates and supporters of Atty. Drilon were billeted at the
Philippine Plaza Hotel where her campaign manager, Atty. Renato
Callanta, booked 40 rooms, 5 of which were suites. According to Ms.
Villanueva, Philippine Plaza banquet and conventions manager, the
contract that Atty. Callanta signed with the Philippine Plaza was made
in the name of the "IBP c/o Atty. Callanta."
Mrs. Lourdes Juco, a sales manager of the Philippine Plaza, recalled
that it was Mr. Mariano Benedicto who first came to book rooms for
the IBP delegates. She suggested that he obtain a group (or
discounted) rate. He gave her the name of Atty. Callanta who would
make the arrangements with her. Mr. Benedicto turned out to be the
Assistant Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment
(DOLE).
The total sum of P316,411.53 was paid by Atty. Callanta for the rooms,
food, and beverages consumed by the Drilon group, with an unpaid
balance of P302,197.30. Per Attorney Daniel Martinez's last telephone
conversation with Ms. Villanueva, Atty. Callanta still has an
outstanding account of P232,782.65 at Philippine Plaza.
Atty. Callanta admitted that he signed the contract for 40 rooms at the
Philippine Plaza. He made a downpayment of P123,000. His "working
sheet' showed that the following persons contributed for that down
payment:

(a) Nilo Pena (Quasha Law Office)

P 25,000

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

29

(b) Antonio Carpio

20,000

(c) Toto Ferrer (Carpio Law Office)

10,000

(d) Jay Castro

10,000

(e) Danny Deen

20,000

(f) Angangco Tan (Angara Law Office)

10,000

(g) Alfonso Reyno

20,000

(h) Cosme Rossel

15,300

(t.s.n. July 4, 1 989, pp. 3-4)


Atty. Callanta explained that the above listed persons have been
contributing money every time the IBP embarks on a project. This
time, they contributed so that their partners or associates could attend
the legal aid seminar and the IBP convention too.
Atty. Drilon alleged that she did not know that Atty. Callanta had
billeted her delegates at the Philippine Plaza. She allegedly did not
also know in whose name the room she occupied was registered. But

she did ask for a room where she could rest during the convention.
She admitted, however, that she paid for her hotel room and meals to
Atty. Callanta, through Atty. Loanzon (t.s.n. July 3,1989).
The following were listed as having occupied the rooms reserved by
Atty. Callanta at the Philippine Plaza: Violeta Drilon, Victoria A.
Verciles, Victoria C. Loanzon, Leopoldo A. Consulto Ador Lao, Victoria
Borra, Aimee Wong, Callanta, Pena, Tiu, Gallardo, Acong Atienza, D.
Bernardo, Amores, Silao Caingat, Manuel Yuson, Simeon Datumanong,
Manuel Pecson, Sixto Marella, Joselito Barrera, Radon Macalalag,
Oscar Badelles, Antonio Acyatan, Ildefonso C. Puerto, Nestor Atienza,
Gil Batula Array Corot, Dimakuta Corot Romeo Fortes Irving Petilla,
Teodoro Palma, Gil Palma, Danilo Deen, Delsanto, Resuello, Araneta,
Vicente Real, Sylvio Casuncad Espina, Guerrero, Julius Neri, Linda
Lim, Ben Lim, C. Batica, Luis Formilleza, Felix Macalag Mariano
Benedicto, Atilano, Araneta, Renato Callanta.
Atty. Nilo Pena admitted that the Quasha Law Office of which he is a
senior partner, gave P25,000 to Callanta for rooms at the Philippine
Plaza so that some members of his law firm could campaign for the
Drilon group (t.s.n. July 5,1989, pp. 7678) during the legal aid seminar
and the IBP convention. Most of the members of his law firm are
fraternity brothers of Secretary Drilon (meaning, members of the
Sigma Rho Fraternity). He admitted being sympathetic to the
candidacy of Atty. Drilon and the members of her slate, two of whom
Jose Grapilon and Simeon Datumanong are Sigma Rhoans. They
consider Atty. Drilon as a "sigma rho sister," her husband being a
sigma rhoan.
Atty. Antonio Carpio, also a Sigma Rhoan, reserved a room for the
members of his own firm who attended the legal aid seminar and the
convention. He made the reservation through Atty. Callanta to whom
he paid P20,000 (t.s.n. July 6,1989, pp. 30-34).
Atty. Carpio assisted Atty. Drilon in her campaign during the
convention, by soliciting the votes of delegates he knew, like Atty.
Albacite his former teacher (but the latter was already committed to
Nisce), and Atty. Romy Fortes, a classmate of his in the U.P. College of
Law (t. t.s.n. July 6, 1989, pp. 22, 29, 39).
(c) ATTY. RAMON NISCE.
Atty. Nisce, through his brother-in-law, Ricardo Paras, entered into a
contract with the Hyatt Hotel for a total of 29 rooms plus one (1)
seventh-floor room. He made a downpayment of P20,000 (t.s.n. June
28, 1989, p. 58) on April 20, 1989, and P37,632.45 on May 10, or a
total of P57,632.45.
Ms. Cecile Flores, Ms. Milagros Ocampo, and Mr. Ramon Jacinto, the
sales department manager, credit manager, and reservation manager,
respectively of the Hyatt, testified that Atty. Nisce's bill amounted to
P216,127.74 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, pp. 57-58; Exhibits E-Flores, FJacinto G-Ocampo).

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

30

As earlier mentioned, Atty. Nisce admitted that he reserved rooms for


those who committed themselves to his candidacy.
The hotel guests of Atty. Nisce were: Gloria Agunos Dennis Habanel B.
Batula, John E. Asuncion, Reynaldo Cortes, Lourdes Santos, Elmer
Datuin, Romualdo Din, Antonio Nalapo, Israel Damasco, Candido
Balbin, Serrano Balot, Ibarra, Joel Llosa, Eltanal, Ruperto, Asuncion,
Q. Pilotin Reymundo P. Guzman, Zoilo Aguinaldo, Clarin, R. Ronquillo,
Dominador Carillo, Filomeno Balinas, Ernesto Sabulan, Yusop
Pangadapun, A. Viray, Icampo, Abelardo Fermin, C. Quiaoit, Augurio
Pamintuan, Daniel Macaraeg, Onofre Tejada.
(6) Campaigning by labor officials for Atty. Violeta Drilon
In violation of the prohibition against "campaigning for or against a
candidate while holding an elective, judicial, quasi-judicial, or
prosecutory office in the Government' (Sec. 14[c], Art. I, IBP By-Laws),
Mariano E. Benedicto II, Assistant Secretary, Department of Labor and
Employment, testified that he took a leave of absence from his office to
attend the IBP convention. He stayed at the Philippine Plaza with the
Drilon group admittedly to give "some moral assistance" to Atty.
Violeta Drilon. He did so because he is a member of the Sigma Rho
Fraternity. When asked about the significance of Sigma Rho, Secretary
Benedicto explained: "More than the husband of Mrs. Drilon being my
boss, the significance there is that the husband is my brother in the
Sigma Rho."
He cheered up Mrs., Drilon when her spirits were low. He talked to
her immediate circle which included Art Tiu, Tony Carpio, Nilo Pena,
Amy Wong, Atty. Grapilon, Victor Lazatin, and Boy Reyno. They
assessed the progress of the campaign, and measured the strengths
and weaknesses of the other groups The group had sessions as early
as the later part of May.
Room 114, the suite listed in the name of Assistant Secretary
Benedicto toted up a bill of P23,110 during the 2-day IBP
convention/election. A total of 113 phone calls (amounting to Pl,356)
were recorded as emanating from his room.
Opposite Room 114, was Room 112, also a suite, listed in the names of
Mrs. Drilon, Gladys Tiongco (candidate for Governor, Eastern
Mindanao) and Amy Wong (candidate for Governor, Metro Manila).
These two rooms served as the "action center' or "war room" where
campaign strategies were discussed before and during the convention.
It was in these rooms where the supporters of the Drilon group, like
Attys. Carpio, Callanta, Benedicto, the Quasha and the ACCRA lawyers
met to plot their moves.
(7) Paying the dues or other indebtedness of any number (Sec. 14[e],
IBP BY-Laws).
Atty. Teresita C. Sison, IBP Treasurer, testified that she has heard of
candidates paying the IBP dues of lawyers who promised to vote for or
support them, but she has no way of ascertaining whether it was a
candidate who paid the delinquent dues of another, because the

receipts are issued in the name of the member for whom payment is
made (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, pp. 24-28).
She has noticed, though, that there is an upsurge of payments in
March, April, May during any election year. This year, the collections
increased by P100,000 over that of last year (a non-election year from
Pl,413,425 to Pl,524,875 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, p. 25).
(8) Distribution of materials other than bio-data of not more than one
page of legal size sheet of paper (Sec. 14[a], IBP By-Laws).
On the convention floor on the day of the election, Atty. Paculdo
caused to be distributed his bio-data and copies of a leaflet entitled
"My Quest," as wen as, the lists of his slate. Attys. Drilon and Nisce
similarly distributed their tickets and bio-data.
The campaign materials of Atty. Paculdo cost from P15,000 to P20,000.
They were printed by his own printing shop.
(9) Causing distribution of such statement to be done by persons other
than those authorized by the officer presiding at the election (Sec.
14[b], IBP By-Laws).
Atty. Paculdo employed uniformed girls to distribute his campaign
materials on the convention floor. Atty. Carpio noted that there were
more campaign materials distributed at the convention site this year
than in previous years. The election was more heated and expensive
(t.s.n. July 6,1989, p. 39).
Atty. Benjamin Bernardino, the incumbent President of the IBP Rizal
Chapter, and a candidate for chairman of the House of Delegates on
Nisce's ticket, testified that campaign materials were distributed
during the convention by girls and by lawyers. He saw members of the
ACCRA law firm campaigning for Atty. Drilon (t.s.n. July 3,1989, pp.
142-145).
(10) Inducing or influencing a member to withhold his vote, or to vote
for or against a candidate (Sec. 14[e], IBP BY-Laws).
Atty. Bernardino disclosed that his cousin, Atty. Romeo Capulong,
urged him to withdraw his candidacy for chairman of the House of
Delegates and to run as vice-chairman in Violy Drilon's slate, but he
declined (t.s.n. July 3,1989, pp. 137, 149).
Atty. Gloria Agunos personnel director of the Hyatt Terraces Hotel in
Baguio and president of the Baguio-Benguet IBP Chapter, recalled that
in the third week of May 1989, after the Tripartite meet of the
Department of Labor & Employment at the Green Valley Country Club
in Baguio City, she met Atty. Drilon, together with two labor officers of
Region 1, Attys. Filomeno Balbin and Atty. Mansala Atty. Drilon
solicited her (Atty. Agunos') vote and invited her to stay at the
Philippine Plaza where a room would be available for her. Atty. Paculdo
also tried to enlist her support during the chapter presidents' meeting
to choose their nominee for governor for the Northern Luzon region
(t.s.n. July 13,1989, pp. 43-54).
Atty. Nisce testified that a Manila Chapter 4 delegate, Marcial
Magsino, who had earlier committed his vote to Nisce changed his

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

31

mind when he was offered a judgeship (This statement, however, is


admittedly hearsay). When Nisce confronted Magsino about the
alleged offer, the latter denied that there was such an offer. Nisce's
informant was Antonio G. Nalapo an IBP candidate who also withdrew.
Another Nisce candidate, Cesar Viola, withdrew from the race and
refused to be nominated (t.s.n. June 29, 1989, p. 104). Vicente P.
Tordilla who was Nisce's candidate for Governor became Paculdo's
candidate instead (t.s.n. June 29, 1989, p. 104).
Nisce recalled that during the Bench and Bar Dialogue in Cotabato
City, Court Administrator Tiro went around saying, "I am not
campaigning, but my wife is a candidate." Nisce said that the
presidents of several IBP chapters informed him that labor officials
were campaigning for Mrs. Drilon (t.s.n. June 29,1989, pp. 109-110).
He mentioned Ciony de la Cerna, who allegedly campaigned in La
Union (t.s.n. June 29,1989,p.111)
Atty. Joel A. Llosa, Nisce's supporter and candidate for governor of the
Western Visayas, expressed his disappointment over the IBP elections
because some delegates flip-flopped from one camp to another. He
testified that when he arrived at the Manila Domestic Airport he was
met by an assistant regional director of the DOLE who offered to bring
him to the Philippine Plaza, but he declined the offer. During the legal
aid seminar, Atty. Drilon invited him to transfer to the Philippine Plaza
where a room had been reserved for him. He declined the invitation
(t.s.n. July 4,1989, pp. 102-106).
Atty. Llosa said that while he was still in Dumaguete City, he already
knew that the three candidates had their headquarters in separate
hotels: Paculdo, at the Holiday Inn; Drilon, at the Philippine Plaza; and
Nisce, at the Hyatt. He knew about this because a week before the
elections, representatives of Atty. Drilon went to Dumaguete City to
campaign. He mentioned Atty. Rodil Montebon of the ACCRA Law
Office, accompanied by Atty. Julve the Assistant Regional Director of
the Department of Labor in Dumaguete City. These two, he said,
offered to give him two PAL tickets and accommodations at the
Philippine Plaza (t.s.n. July 4,1989, pp. 101-104). But he declined the
offer because he was already committed to Atty. Nisce.
Atty. Llosa also revealed that before he left for Manila on May 31,
1989, a businessman, Henry Dy, approached him to convince him to
vote for Atty. Paculdo. But Llosa told Dy that he was already
committed to Nisce.
He did not receive any plane tickets from Atty. Nisce because he and
his two companions (Atty. Eltanal and Atty. Ruperto) had earlier
bought their own tickets for Manila (t.s.n. July 4, 1989, p. 101).
SUMMARY OF CAMPAIGN EXPENSES INCURRED
BY THE CANDIDATES
Atty. Paculdo admitted having spent some P250,000 during his three
weeks of campaigning. Of this amount, the Capitol Bar Association (of
which he was the chapter president) contributed about P150,000. The

Capitol Bar Association is a voluntary bar association composed of


Quezon City lawyers.
He spent about P100,000 to defray the expenses of his trips to the
provinces (Bicol provinces, Pampanga, Abra, Mountain Province and
Bulacan) (t.s.n. June 29,1989, pp. 9-14).
Atty. Nisce's hotel bills at the Hyatt amounted to P216,127.74. This
does not include the expenses for his campaign which began several
months before the June 3rd election, and his purchases of airplane
tickets for some delegates.
The records of the Philippine Plaza Hotel, headquarters of Atty.
Drilon's camp, showed that her campaign rang up over P600,000 in
hotel bills. Atty. Callanta paid P316,411.53 for the rooms, food, and
beverage consumed by Atty. Drilon's supporters, but still left an
unpaid bill of P302,197.30 at convention's end.
FINDINGS.
From all the foregoing, it is evident that the manner in which the
principal candidates for the national positions in the Integrated Bar
conducted their campaign preparatory to the elections on June 3,
1989, violated Section 14 of the IBP By-Laws and made a travesty of
the idea of a "strictly non-political" Integrated Bar enshrined in
Section 4 of the By-Laws.
The setting up of campaign headquarters by the three principal
candidates (Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo) in five-star hotels: The
Philippine Plaza, the Holiday Inn and The Hyatt the better for them to
corral and entertain the delegates billeted therein; the island hopping
to solicit the votes of the chapter presidents who comprise the 120member House of Delegates that elects the national officers and
regional governors; the formation of tickets, slates, or line-ups of
candidates for the other elective positions aligned with, or supporting,
either Drilon, Paculdo or Nisce; the procurement of written
commitments and the distribution of nomination forms to be filled up
by the delegates; the reservation of rooms for delegates in three big
hotels, at the expense of the presidential candidates; the use of a PNB
plane by Drilon and some members of her ticket to enable them to
"assess their chances" among the chapter presidents in the Bicol
provinces; the printing and distribution of tickets and bio-data of the
candidates which in the case of Paculdo admittedly cost him some
P15,000 to P20,000; the employment of uniformed girls (by Paculdo)
and lawyers (by Drilon) to distribute their campaign materials on the
convention floor on the day of the election; the giving of assistance by
the Undersecretary of Labor to Mrs. Drilon and her group; the use of
labor arbiters to meet delegates at the airport and escort them to the
Philippine Plaza Hotel; the giving of pre-paid plane tickets and hotel
accommodations to delegates (and some families who accompanied
them) in exchange for their support; the pirating of some candidates
by inducing them to "hop" or "flipflop" from one ticket to another for

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

32

some rumored consideration; all these practices made a political


circus of the proceedings and tainted the whole election process.
The candidates and many of the participants in that election not only
violated the By-Laws of the IBP but also the ethics of the legal
profession which imposes on all lawyers, as a corollary of their
obligation to obey and uphold the constitution and the laws, the duty
to "promote respect for law and legal processes" and to abstain from
'activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in
the legal system" (Rule 1.02, Canon 1, Code of Professional
Responsibility). Respect for law is gravely eroded when lawyers
themselves, who are supposed to be millions of the law, engage in
unlawful practices and cavalierly brush aside the very rules that the
IBP formulated for their observance.
The unseemly ardor with which the candidates pursued the presidency
of the association detracted from the dignity of the legal profession.
The spectacle of lawyers bribing or being bribed to vote one way or
another, certainly did not uphold the honor of the profession nor
elevate it in the public's esteem.
The Court notes with grave concern what appear to be the evasions,
denials and outright prevarications that tainted the statements of the
witnesses, including tome of the candidates, during the initial hearing
conducted by it before its fact-finding committee was created. The
subsequent investigation conducted by this Committee has revealed
that those parties had been less than candid with the Court and seem
to have conspired among themselves to deceive it or at least withhold
vital information from it to conceal the irregularities committed during
the campaign.
CONCLUSIONS.
It has been mentioned with no little insistence that the provision in the
1987 Constitution (See. 8, Art. VIII) providing for a Judicial and Bar
Council composed of seven (7) members among whom is "a
representative of the Integrated Bar," tasked to participate in the
selection of nominees for appointment to vacant positions in the
judiciary, may be the reason why the position of IBP president has
attracted so much interest among the lawyers. The much coveted
"power" erroneously perceived to be inherent in that office might have
caused the corruption of the IBP elections. To impress upon the
participants in that electoral exercise the seriousness of the
misconduct which attended it and the stern disapproval with which it
is viewed by this Court, and to restore the non-political character of
the IBP and reduce, if not entirely eliminate, expensive electioneering
for the top positions in the organization which, as the recently
concluded elections revealed, spawned unethical practices which
seriously diminished the stature of the IBP as an association of the
practitioners of a noble and honored profession, the Court hereby
ORDERS:

1. The IBP elections held on June3,1989 should be as they are hereby


annulled.
2. The provisions of the IBP By-Laws for the direct election by the
House of Delegates (approved by this Court in its resolution of July 9,
1985 in Bar Matter No. 287) of the following national officers:
(a) the officers of the House of Delegates;
(b) the IBP president; and
(c) the executive vice-president,
be repealed, this Court being empowered to amend, modify or repeal
the By-Laws of the IBP under Section 77, Art. XI of said By-Laws.
3. The former system of having the IBP President and Executive VicePresident elected by the Board of Governors (composed of the
governors of the nine [91 IBP regions) from among themselves (as
provided in Sec. 47, Art. VII, Original IBP By-Laws) should be
restored. The right of automatic succession by the Executive VicePresident to the presidency upon the expiration of their two-year term
(which was abolished by this Court's resolution dated July 9,1985 in
Bar Matter No. 287) should be as it is hereby restored.
4. At the end of the President's two-year term, the Executive VicePresident shall automatically succeed to the office of president. The
incoming board of governors shall then elect an Executive VicePresident from among themselves. The position of Executive VicePresident shall be rotated among the nine (9) IBP regions. One who
has served as president may not run for election as Executive VicePresident in a succeeding election until after the rotation of the
presidency among the nine (9) regions shall have been completed;
whereupon, the rotation shall begin anew.
5. Section 47 of Article VII is hereby amended to read as follows:
Section 47. National Officers. The Integrated Bar of
the Philippines shall have a President and Executive
Vice-President to be chosen by the Board of Governors
from among nine (9) regional governors, as much as
practicable, on a rotation basis. The governors shall
be ex oficio Vice-President for their respective regions.
There shall also be a Secretary and Treasurer of the
Board of Governors to be appointed by the President
with the consent of the Board.
6. Section 33(b), Art. V, IBP By-Laws, is hereby amended as follows:
(b) The President and Executive Vice President of the
IBP shall be the Chairman and Vice-Chairman,
respectively, of the House of Delegates. The Secretary,
Treasurer, and Sergeant-at-Arms shall be appointed by
the President with the consent of the House of
Delegates.'
7. Section 33(g) of Article V providing for the positions of Chairman,
Vice-Chairman, Secretary-Treasurer and Sergeant-at- Arms of the
House of Delegates is hereby repealed

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

33

8. Section 37, Article VI is hereby amended to read as follows:


Section 37. Composition of the Board. The
Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall be governed by
a Board of Governors consisting of nine (9) Governors
from the nine (9) regions as delineated in Section 3 of
the Integration Rule, on the representation basis of
one (1) Governor for each region to be elected by the
members of the House of Delegates from that region
only. The position of Governor should be rotated
among the different Chapters in the region.
9. Section 39, Article V is hereby amended as follows:
Section 39. Nomination and election of the Governors
at least one (1) month before the national convention
the delegates from each region shall elect the
governor for their region, the choice of which shall as
much as possible be rotated among the chapters in the
region.
10. Section33(a), Article V hereby is amended by addingthe following
provision as part of the first paragraph:
No convention of the House of Delegates nor of the
general membership shall be held prior to any election
in an election year.
11. Section 39, (a), (b), (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), and (7) of Article VI
should be as they are hereby deleted.
All other provisions of the By-Laws including its amendment by the
Resolution en banc of this Court of July 9, 1985 (Bar Matter No. 287)
that are inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed or modified.
12. Special elections for the Board of Governors shall be held in the
nine (9) IBP regions within three (3) months, after the promulgation of
the Court's resolution in this case. Within thirty (30) days thereafter,
the Board of Governors shall meet at the IBP Central Office in Manila
to elect from among themselves the IBP national president and
executive vice-president. In these special elections, the candidates in
the election of the national officers held on June 3,1989, particularly
identified in Sub-Head 3 of this Resolution entitled "Formation of
Tickets and Single Slates," as well as those identified in this
Resolution as connected with any of the irregularities attendant upon
that election, are ineligible and may not present themselves as
candidate for any position.
13. Pending such special elections, a caretaker board shall be
appointed by the Court to administer the affairs of the IBP. The Court
makes clear that the dispositions here made are without prejudice to
its adoption in due time of such further and other measures as are
warranted in the premises.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla.
Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Grio-Aquino and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Fernan, C.J. and Medialdea, J., took no part.


Gutierrez, Jr., J., is on leave.
SECOND DIVISION
[A.C No. 4749. January 20, 2000]
SOLIMAN M. SANTOS, JR., complainant, vs. ATTY. FRANCISCO
R. LLAMAS, respondent.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is a complaint for misrepresentation and non-payment of bar
membership dues filed against respondent Atty. Francisco R. Llamas.
In a letter-complaint to this Court dated February 8, 1997,
complainant Soliman M. Santos, Jr., himself a member of the bar,
alleged that:
On my oath as an attorney, I wish to bring to your
attention and appropriate sanction the matter of Atty.
Francisco R. Llamas who, for a number of years now,
has not indicated the proper PTR and IBP O.R. Nos.
and data (date & place of issuance) in his pleadings. If
at all, he only indicates "IBP Rizal 259060" but he has
been using this for at least three years already, as
shown by the following attached sample pleadings in
various courts in 1995, 1996 and 1997: (originals
available)

Ann
ex
A.....
..-

"Ex-Parte Manifestation and Submission" d


1995 in Civil Case No. Q-95-25253, RTC, B

Ann
ex
B.....
..-

"Urgent Ex-Parte Manifestation Motion" da


1996 in Sp. Proc. No. 95-030, RTC Br. 259
Paraaque, MM

Ann
ex
C.....

"An Urgent and Respectful Plea for extens


Required Comment and Opposition" dated

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

34

..-

CA-G.R. SP (not Civil Case) No.

This matter is being brought in the context of Rule


138, Section 1 which qualifies that only a duly
admitted member of the bar "who is in good and
regular standing, is entitled to practice law". There is
also Rule 139-A, Section 10 which provides that
"default in the payment of annual dues for six months
shall warrant suspension of membership in the
Integrated Bar, and default in such payment for one
year shall be a ground for the removal of the name of
the delinquent member from the Roll of Attorneys."
Among others, I seek clarification (e.g. a certification)
and appropriate action on the bar standing of Atty.
Francisco R. Llamas both with the Bar Confidant and
with the IBP, especially its Rizal Chapter of which Atty.
Llamas purports to be a member. Jksm
Please note that while Atty. Llamas indicates "IBP Rizal
259060" sometimes, he does not indicate any PTR for
payment of professional tax.
Under the Rules, particularly Rule 138, Sections 27
and 28, suspension of an attorney may be done not
only by the Supreme Court but also by the Court of
Appeals or a Regional Trial Court (thus, we are also
copy furnishing some of these courts).
Finally, it is relevant to note the track record of Atty.
Francisco R. Llamas, as shown by:
1........his dismissal as Pasay City Judge per Supreme
Court Admin. Matter No. 1037-CJ En Banc Decision on
October 28, 1981 ( in SCRA )
2........his conviction for estafa per Decision dated June
30, 1994 in Crim. Case No. 11787, RTC Br. 66, Makati,
MM (see attached copy of the Order dated February
14, 1995 denying the motion for reconsideration of the
conviction which is purportedly on appeal in the Court
of Appeals).
Attached to the letter-complaint were the pleadings dated December
1, 1995, November 13, 1996, and January 17, 1997 referred to by
complainant, bearing, at the end thereof, what appears to be
respondents signature above his name, address and the receipt
number "IBP Rizal 259060."[1] Also attached was a copy of the order,
[2]
dated February 14, 1995, issued by Judge Eriberto U. Rosario, Jr. of
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 66, Makati, denying respondents

motion for reconsideration of his conviction, in Criminal Case No.


11787, for violation of Art. 316, par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code.
42286, On
CA April
6th Div.
18, 1997, complainant filed a certification[3] dated March 18,
1997, by the then president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
Atty. Ida R. Macalinao-Javier, that respondents "last payment of his
IBP dues was in 1991. Since then he has not paid or remitted any
amount to cover his membership fees up to the present."
On July 7, 1997, respondent was required to comment on the
complaint within ten days from receipt of notice, after which the case
was referred to the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation.
In his comment-memorandum,[4] dated June 3, 1998, respondent
alleged:[5]
3. That with respect to the complainants absurd claim
that for using in 1995, 1996 and 1997 the same O.R.
No. 259060 of the Rizal IBP, respondent is
automatically no longer a member in good standing.
Precisely, as cited under the context of Rule 138, only
an admitted member of the bar who is in good
standing is entitled to practice law.
The complainants basis in claiming that the
undersigned was no longer in good standing, were as
above cited, the October 28, 1981 Supreme Court
decision of dismissal and the February 14, 1995
conviction for Violation of Article 316 RPC,
concealment of encumbrances. Chief
As above pointed out also, the Supreme Court
dismissal decision was set aside and reversed and
respondent was even promoted from City Judge of
Pasay City to Regional Trial Court Judge of Makati, Br.
150.
Also as pointed out, the February 14, 1995 decision in
Crim. Case No. 11787 was appealed to the Court of
Appeals and is still pending.
Complainant need not even file this complaint if indeed
the decision of dismissal as a Judge was never set
aside and reversed, and also had the decision of
conviction for a light felony, been affirmed by the
Court of Appeals. Undersigned himself would
surrender his right or privilege to practice law.
4. That complainant capitalizes on the fact that
respondent had been delinquent in his dues.
Undersigned since 1992 have publicly made it clear
per his Income Tax Return, up to the present, that he
had only a limited practice of law. In fact, in his Income
Tax Return, his principal occupation is a farmer of
which he is. His 30 hectares orchard and pineapple
farm is located at Calauan, Laguna.

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

35

Moreover, and more than anything else, respondent


being a Senior Citizen since 1992, is legally exempt
under Section 4 of Rep. Act 7432 which took effect in
1992, in the payment of taxes, income taxes as an
example. Being thus exempt, he honestly believe in
view of his detachment from a total practice of law, but
only in a limited practice, the subsequent payment by
him of dues with the Integrated Bar is covered by such
exemption. In fact, he never exercised his rights as an
IBP member to vote and be voted upon.
Nonetheless, if despite such honest belief of being
covered by the exemption and if only to show that he
never in any manner wilfully and deliberately failed
and refused compliance with such dues, he is willing at
any time to fulfill and pay all past dues even with
interests, charges and surcharges and penalties. He is
ready to tender such fulfillment or payment, not for
allegedly saving his skin as again irrelevantly and
frustratingly insinuated for vindictive purposes by the
complainant, but as an honest act of accepting reality
if indeed it is reality for him to pay such dues despite
his candor and honest belief in all food faith, to the
contrary. Esmsc
On December 4, 1998, the IBP Board of Governors passed a
resolution[6] adopting and approving the report and recommendation
of the Investigating Commissioner which found respondent guilty, and
recommended his suspension from the practice of law for three
months and until he pays his IBP dues. Respondent moved for a
reconsideration of the decision, but this was denied by the IBP in a
resolution,[7] dated April 22, 1999. Hence, pursuant to Rule 139-B,
12(b) of the Rules of Court, this case is here for final action on the
decision of the IBP ordering respondents suspension for three
months.
The findings of IBP Commissioner Alfredo Sanz are as follows:
On the first issue, Complainant has shown
"respondents non-indication of the proper IBP O.R.
and PTR numbers in his pleadings (Annexes "A", "B"
and "C" of the letter complaint, more particularly his
use of "IBP Rizal 259060 for at least three years."
The records also show a "Certification dated March 24,
1997 from IBP Rizal Chapter President Ida R.
Makahinud Javier that respondents last payment of his
IBP dues was in 1991."
While these allegations are neither denied nor
categorically admitted by respondent, he has invoked
and cited that "being a Senior Citizen since 1992, he is
legally exempt under Section 4 of Republic Act No.

7432 which took effect in 1992 in the payment of


taxes, income taxes as an example."
....
The above cited provision of law is not applicable in
the present case. In fact, respondent admitted that he
is still in the practice of law when he alleged that the
"undersigned since 1992 have publicly made it clear
per his Income tax Return up to the present time that
he had only a limited practice of law." (par. 4 of
Respondents Memorandum).
Therefore respondent is not exempt from paying his
yearly dues to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines. Esmmis
On the second issue, complainant claims that
respondent has misled the court about his standing in
the IBP by using the same IBP O.R. number in his
pleadings of at least six years and therefore liable for
his actions. Respondent in his memorandum did not
discuss this issue.
First. Indeed, respondent admits that since 1992, he has engaged in
law practice without having paid his IBP dues. He likewise admits
that, as appearing in the pleadings submitted by complainant to this
Court, he indicated "IBP-Rizal 259060" in the pleadings he filed in
court, at least for the years 1995, 1996, and 1997, thus
misrepresenting that such was his IBP chapter membership and
receipt number for the years in which those pleadings were filed. He
claims, however, that he is only engaged in a "limited" practice and
that he believes in good faith that he is exempt from the payment of
taxes, such as income tax, under R.A. No. 7432, 4 as a senior citizen
since 1992.
Rule 139-A provides:
Sec. 9. Membership dues. - Every member of the
Integrated Bar shall pay such annual dues as the
Board of Governors shall determine with the approval
of the Supreme Court. A fixed sum equivalent to ten
percent (10%) of the collections from each Chapter
shall be set aside as a Welfare Fund for disabled
members of the Chapter and the compulsory heirs of
deceased members thereof.
Sec. 10. Effect of non-payment of dues. - Subject to the
provisions of Section 12 of this Rule, default in the
payment of annual dues for six months shall warrant
suspension of membership in the Integrated Bar, and
default in such payment for one year shall be a ground
for the removal of the name of the delinquent member
from the Roll of Attorneys.

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

36

In accordance with these provisions, respondent can engage in the


practice of law only by paying his dues, and it does not matter that his
practice is "limited." While it is true that R.A. No. 7432, 4 grants
senior citizens "exemption from the payment of individual income
taxes: provided, that their annual taxable income does not exceed the
poverty level as determined by the National Economic and
Development Authority (NEDA) for that year," the exemption does not
include payment of membership or association dues.
Second. By indicating "IBP-Rizal 259060" in his pleadings and thereby
misrepresenting to the public and the courts that he had paid his IBP
dues to the Rizal Chapter, respondent is guilty of violating the Code of
Professional Responsibility which provides:
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES
UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE
LEGAL PROFESSION, AND SUPPORT THE
ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR. Esmso
CANON 10 - A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS
AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT.
Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor
consent to the doing of any court; nor shall he mislead
or allow the court to be misled by any artifice.
Respondents failure to pay his IBP dues and his misrepresentation in
the pleadings he filed in court indeed merit the most severe penalty.
However, in view of respondents advanced age, his express
willingness to pay his dues and plea for a more temperate application
of the law,[8] we believe the penalty of one year suspension from the
practice of law or until he has paid his IBP dues, whichever is later, is
appropriate.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco R. Llamas is SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR, or until he has paid his IBP
dues, whichever is later. Let a copy of this decision be attached to Atty.
Llamas personal record in the Office of the Bar Confidant and copies
be furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and to all courts in the land.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ.,
concur. ULANDU
[B.M. No. 1370. May 9, 2005]
LETTER OF ATTY. CECILIO Y. AREVALO, JR., REQUESTING
EXEMPTION FROM PAYMENT OF IBP DUES.
DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
This is a request for exemption from payment of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) dues filed by petitioner Atty. Cecilio Y.
Arevalo, Jr.
In his letter,[1] dated 22 September 2004, petitioner sought
exemption from payment of IBP dues in the amount of P12,035.00 as
alleged unpaid accountability for the years 1977-2005. He alleged
that after being admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1961, he became
part of the Philippine Civil Service from July 1962 until 1986, then
migrated to, and worked in, the USA in December 1986 until his
retirement in the year 2003. He maintained that he cannot be
assessed IBP dues for the years that he was working in the Philippine
Civil Service since the Civil Service law prohibits the practice of ones
profession while in government service, and neither can he be
assessed for the years when he was working in the USA.
On 05 October 2004, the letter was referred to the IBP for
comment.[2]
On
16
November
2004,
the
IBP
submitted
its
comment[3] stating inter alia: that membership in the IBP is not based
on the actual practice of law; that a lawyer continues to be included in
the Roll of Attorneys as long as he continues to be a member of the
IBP; that one of the obligations of a member is the payment of annual
dues as determined by the IBP Board of Governors and duly approved
by the Supreme Court as provided for in Sections 9 and 10, Rule 139-A
of the Rules of Court; that the validity of imposing dues on the IBP
members has been upheld as necessary to defray the cost of an
Integrated Bar Program; and that the policy of the IBP Board of
Governors of no exemption from payment of dues is but an
implementation of the Courts directives for all members of the IBP to
help in defraying the cost of integration of the bar. It maintained that
there is no rule allowing the exemption of payment of annual dues as
requested by respondent, that what is allowed is voluntary termination
and reinstatement of membership. It asserted that what petitioner
could have done was to inform the secretary of the IBP of his intention
to stay abroad, so that his membership in the IBP could have been
terminated, thus, his obligation to pay dues could have been stopped.
It also alleged that the IBP Board of Governors is in the process of
discussing proposals for the creation of an inactive status for its
members, which if approved by the Board of Governors and by this
Court, will exempt inactive IBP members from payment of the annual
dues.
In his reply[4] dated 22 February 2005, petitioner contends that
what he is questioning is the IBP Board of Governors Policy of Non-

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

37

Exemption in the payment of annual membership dues of lawyers


regardless of whether or not they are engaged in active or inactive
practice. He asseverates that the Policy of Non-Exemption in the
payment of annual membership dues suffers from constitutional
infirmities, such as equal protection clause and the due process
clause. He also posits that compulsory payment of the IBP annual
membership dues would indubitably be oppressive to him considering
that he has been in an inactive status and is without income derived
from his law practice. He adds that his removal from nonpayment of
annual membership dues would constitute deprivation of property
right without due process of law. Lastly, he claims that non-practice of
law by a lawyer-member in inactive status is neither injurious to active
law practitioners, to fellow lawyers in inactive status, nor to the
community where the inactive lawyers-members reside.
Plainly, the issue here is: whether or nor petitioner is entitled to
exemption from payment of his dues during the time that he was
inactive in the practice of law that is, when he was in the Civil Service
from 1962-1986 and he was working abroad from 1986-2003?
We rule in the negative.
An Integrated Bar is a State-organized Bar, to which every
lawyer must belong, as distinguished from bar association organized
by individual lawyers themselves, membership in which is voluntary.
Integration of the Bar is essentially a process by which every member
of the Bar is afforded an opportunity to do his shares in carrying out
the objectives of the Bar as well as obliged to bear his portion of its
responsibilities. Organized by or under the direction of the State, an
Integrated Bar is an official national body of which all lawyers are
required to be members. They are, therefore, subject to all the rules
prescribed for the governance of the Bar, including the requirement of
payment of a reasonable annual fee for the effective discharge of the
purposes of the Bar, and adherence to a code of professional ethics or
professional responsibility, breach of which constitutes sufficient
reason for investigation by the Bar and, upon proper cause appearing,
a recommendation for discipline or disbarment of the offending
member.[5]
The integration of the Philippine Bar means the official unification
of the entire lawyer population. This requires membership and
financial support of every attorney as conditionsine qua non to the
practice of law and the retention of his name in the Roll of Attorneys
of the Supreme Court.[6]
Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with
anyone. He is free to attend or not to attend the meetings of his
Integrated Bar Chapter or vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he
chooses. The only compulsion to which he is subjected is the payment

of his annual dues. The Supreme Court, in order to foster the States
legitimate interest in elevating the quality of professional legal
services, may require that the cost of improving the profession in this
fashion be shared by the subjects and beneficiaries of the regulatory
program the lawyers.[7]
Moreover, there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the
Court, under its constitutional power and duty to promulgate rules
concerning the admission to the practice of law and in the integration
of the Philippine Bar[8] - which power required members of a privileged
class, such as lawyers are, to pay a reasonable fee toward defraying
the expenses of regulation of the profession to which they belong. It is
quite apparent that the fee is, indeed, imposed as a regulatory
measure, designed to raise funds for carrying out the noble objectives
and purposes of integration.
The rationale for prescribing dues has been explained in the
Integration of the Philippine Bar,[9] thus:
For the court to prescribe dues to be paid by the members does not
mean that the Court is attempting to levy a tax.
A membership fee in the Bar association is an exaction for regulation,
while tax purpose of a tax is a revenue. If the judiciary has inherent
power to regulate the Bar, it follows that as an incident to regulation,
it may impose a membership fee for that purpose. It would not be
possible to put on an integrated Bar program without means to defray
the expenses. The doctrine of implied powers necessarily carries with
it the power to impose such exaction.
The only limitation upon the States power to regulate the privilege of
law is that the regulation does not impose an unconstitutional burden.
The public interest promoted by the integration of the Bar far
outweighs the slight inconvenience to a member resulting from his
required payment of the annual dues.
Thus, payment of dues is a necessary consequence of membership
in the IBP, of which no one is exempt. This means that the compulsory
nature of payment of dues subsists for as long as ones membership in
the IBP remains regardless of the lack of practice of, or the type of
practice, the member is engaged in.
There is nothing in the law or rules which allows exemption from
payment of membership dues. At most, as correctly observed by the
IBP, he could have informed the Secretary of the Integrated Bar of his
intention to stay abroad before he left. In such case, his membership
in the IBP could have been terminated and his obligation to pay dues
could have been discontinued.

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

38

As abovementioned, the IBP in its comment stated that the IBP


Board of Governors is in the process of discussing the situation of
members under inactive status and the nonpayment of their dues
during such inactivity. In the meantime, petitioner is duty bound to
comply with his obligation to pay membership dues to the IBP.
Petitioner also contends that the enforcement of the penalty of
removal would amount to a deprivation of property without due
process and hence infringes on one of his constitutional rights.
This question has been settled in the case of In re Atty. Marcial
Edillon,[10] in this wise:
. . . Whether the practice of law is a property right, in the sense of its
being one that entitles the holder of a license to practice a profession,
we do not here pause to consider at length, as it [is] clear that under
the police power of the State, and under the necessary powers granted
to the Court to perpetuate its existence, the respondents right to
practice law before the courts of this country should be and is a
matter subject to regulation and inquiry. And, if the power to impose
the fee as a regulatory measure is recognize[d], then a penalty
designed to enforce its payment, which penalty may be avoided
altogether by payment, is not void as unreasonable or arbitrary.
But we must here emphasize that the practice of law is not a property
right but a mere privilege, and as such must bow to the inherent
regulatory power of the Court to exact compliance with the lawyers
public responsibilities.
As a final note, it must be borne in mind that membership in the
bar is a privilege burdened with conditions, [11] one of which is the
payment of membership dues. Failure to abide by any of them entails
the loss of such privilege if the gravity thereof warrants such drastic
move.
WHEREFORE, petitioners request for exemption from payment
of IBP dues is DENIED. He is ordered to pay P12,035.00, the amount
assessed by the IBP as membership fees for the years 1977-2005,
within a non-extendible period of ten (10) days from receipt of this
decision, with a warning that failure to do so will merit his suspension
from the practice of law.
SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 7199
July 22, 2009
[Formerly CBD 04-1386]

FOODSPHERE, INC., Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. MELANIO L. MAURICIO, JR., Respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Foodsphere, Inc. (complainant), a corporation engaged in the business
of meat processing and manufacture and distribution of canned goods
and grocery products under the brand name "CDO," filed a Verified
Complaint1 for disbarment before the Commission on Bar Discipline
(CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) against Atty.
Melanio L. Mauricio, Jr., popularly known as "Batas Mauricio"
(respondent), a writer/columnist of tabloids including Balitang Patas
BATAS, Bagong TIKTIK, TORO and HATAW!, and a host of a television
program KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS telecast over UNTV and of a radio
program Double B-BATAS NG BAYAN aired over DZBB, for (1) grossly
immoral conduct; (2) violation of lawyers oath and (3) disrespect to
the courts and to investigating prosecutors.
The facts that spawned the filing of the complaint are as follows:
On June 22, 2004, a certain Alberto Cordero (Cordero) purportedly
bought from a grocery in Valenzuela City canned goods including a
can of CDO Liver spread. On June 27, 2004, as Cordero and his
relatives were eating bread with the CDO Liver spread, they found the
spread to be sour and soon discovered a colony of worms inside the
can.
Corderos wife thus filed a complaint with the Bureau of Food and
Drug Administration (BFAD). Laboratory examination confirmed the
presence of parasites in the Liver spread.
Pursuant to Joint DTI-DOH-DA Administrative Order No. 1, Series of
1993, the BFAD conducted a conciliation hearing on July 27, 2004
during which the spouses Cordero demanded P150,000 as damages
from complainant. Complainant refused to heed the demand, however,
as being in contravention of company policy and, in any event,
"outrageous."
Complainant instead offered to return actual medical and incidental
expenses incurred by the Corderos as long as they were supported by
receipts, but the offer was turned down. And the Corderos threatened
to bring the matter to the attention of the media.
Complainant was later required by the BFAD to file its Answer to the
complaint. In the meantime or on August 6, 2004, respondent sent
complainant via fax a copy of the front page of the would-be August
10-16, 2004 issue of the tabloid Balitang Patas BATAS, Vol. 1, No.
122 which complainant found to contain articles maligning,
discrediting and imputing vices and defects to it and its products.
Respondent threatened to publish the articles unless complainant gave
in to the P150,000 demand of the Corderos. Complainant thereupon

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

39

reiterated its counter-offer earlier conveyed to the Corderos, but


respondent turned it down.
Respondent later proposed to settle the matter for P50,000, P15,000
of which would go to the Corderos andP35,000 to his Batas
Foundation. And respondent directed complainant to place paid
advertisements in the tabloids and television program.
The Corderos eventually forged a KASUNDUAN3 seeking the
withdrawal of their complaint before the BFAD. The BFAD thus
dismissed the complaint.4 Respondent, who affixed his signature to the
KASUNDUAN as a witness, later wrote in one of his articles/columns
in a tabloid that he prepared the document.
On August 11, 2004, respondent sent complainant an Advertising
Contract5 asking complainant to advertise in the tabloid Balitang Patas
BATAS for its next 24 weekly issues at P15,000 per issue or a total
amount ofP360,000, and a Program Profile6 of the television program
KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS also asking complainant to place spot
advertisements with the following rate cards: (a) spot buy 15-second
TVC at P4,000; (b) spot buy 30-second TVC at P7,700; and (c) season
buy [13 episodes, 26 spots] of 30-second TVC for P130,000.
As a sign of goodwill, complainant offered to buy three full-page
advertisements in the tabloid amounting toP45,000 at P15,000 per
advertisement, and three spots of 30-second TVC in the television
program at P7,700 each or a total of P23,100. Acting on complainants
offer, respondent relayed to it that he and his Executive Producer were
disappointed with the offer and threatened to proceed with the
publication of the articles/columns.7
On August 28, 2004, respondent, in his radio program Double B- Batas
ng Bayan at radio station DZBB, announced the holding of a supposed
contest sponsored by said program, which announcement was
transcribed as follows:
"OK, at meron akong pa-contest, total magpapasko na o ha, meron pacontest si Batas Mauricio ang Batas ng Bayan. Ito yung ating pacontest, hulaan ninyo, tatawag kayo sa telepono, 433-7549 at 4337553. Ang mga premyo babanggitin po natin sa susunod pero ito muna
ang contest, o, aling liver spread ang may uod? Yan kita ninyo yan,
ayan malalaman ninyo yan. Pagka-nahulaan yan ah, at sasagot kayo sa
akin, aling liver spread ang may uod at anong companya ang
gumagawa nyan? Itawag po ninyo sa 433-7549 st 433-7553. Open po
an[g] contest na ito sa lahat ng ating tagapakinig. Pipiliin natin ang
mananalo, kung tama ang inyong sagot. Ang tanong, aling liver
spread sa Pilipinas an[g] may uod? 8 (Emphasis and italics in the
original; underscoring supplied)
And respondent wrote in his columns in the tabloids articles which put
complainant in bad light. Thus, in the August 31- September 6, 2004

issue of Balitang Patas BATAS, he wrote an article captioned "KADIRI


ANG CDO LIVER SPREAD!" In another article, he wrote "IBA PANG
PRODUKTO NG CDO SILIPIN!"9 which appeared in the same
publication in its September 7-13, 2004 issue. And still in the same
publication, its September 14-20, 2004 issue, he wrote another article
entitled "DAPAT BANG PIGILIN ANG CDO."10
Respondent continued his tirade against complainant in his column
LAGING HANDA published in another tabloid, BAGONG TIKTIK, with
the following articles:11 (a) "Uod sa liver spread," Setyembre 6, 2004
(Taon 7, Blg.276);12(b) "Uod, itinanggi ng CDO," Setyembre 7, 2004
(Taon 7, Blg.277);13 (c) "Pagpapatigil sa CDO," Setyembre 8, 2004
(Taon 7, Blg.278);14 (d) "Uod sa liver spread kumpirmado," Setyembre
9, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.279);15 (e) "Salaysay ng nakakain ng uod,"
Setyembre 10, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.280);16 (f) "Kaso VS. CDO itinuloy,"
Setyembre 11, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.281);17 (g) "Kasong Kidnapping laban
sa CDO guards," Setyembre 14, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.284); 18 (h)
"Brutalidad ng CDO guards," Setyembre 15, 2004 (Taon 7,
Blg.285);19 (i) "CDO guards pinababanatan sa PNP," Setyembre 17,
2004 (Taon 7, Blg.287);20 (j) "May uod na CDO liver spread sa Puregold
binili," Setyembre 18, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.288); 21 (k) "Desperado na ang
CDO," Setyembre 20, 2004 (Taon 7, Blg.290);22 (l) "Atty. Rufus
Rodriguez pumadrino sa CDO," Setyembre 21, 2004 (Taon 7,Blg.
291);23 (m) "Kasunduan ng CDO at Pamilya Cordero," Setyembre 22,
2004 (Taon 7,Blg. 292);24 (n) "Bakit nagbayad ng P50 libo ang CDO,"
Setyembre 23, 2004 (Taon 7,Blg. 293).25
In his September 8, 2004 column "Anggulo ng Batas" published in
Hataw!, respondent wrote an article "Reaksyon pa sa uod ng CDO
Liver Spread."26
And respondent, in several episodes in September 2004 of his
television program Kakampi Mo ang Batas aired over UNTV,
repeatedly complained of what complainant claimed to be the "same
baseless and malicious allegations/issues" against it.27
Complainant thus filed criminal complaints against respondent and
several others for Libel and Threatening to Publish Libel under
Articles 353 and 356 of the Revised Penal Code before the Office of
the City Prosecutor of Quezon City and Valenzuela City. The
complaints were pending at he time of the filing of the present
administrative complaint.28
In the criminal complaints pending before the Office of the City
Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, docketed as I.S. Nos. V-04-2917-2933,
respondent filed his Entry of Appearance with Highly Urgent Motion
to Elevate These Cases to the Department of Justice,29 alleging:
xxxx
2.N. The question here is this: What gives, Honorable (???)
Prosecutors of the Office of the City Prosecutor of Valenzuela City?
Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)
40

xxxx
2.R. Can an ordinary person like Villarez simply be tossed around,
waiting for miracles to happen?
2.S. Why? How much miracle is needed to happen here before this
Office would ever act on his complaint?
xxxx
8. With a City Prosecutor acting the way he did in the case filed by
Villarez, and with an investigating prosecutor virtually kowtowing to
the wishes of his boss, the Chief Prosecutor, can Respondents expect
justice to be meted to them?
9. With utmost due respect, Respondents have reason to believe that
justice would elude them in this Office of the City Prosecutor of
Valenzuela City, not because of the injustice of their cause, but, more
importantly, because of the injustice of the system;
10. Couple all of these with reports that many a government office in
Valenzuela City had been the willing recipient of too many generosities
in the past of the Complainant, and also with reports that a top official
of the City had campaigned for his much coveted position in the past
distributing products of the Complainant, what would one expect the
Respondents to think?
11. Of course, not to be lost sight of here is the attitude and behavior
displayed even by mere staff and underlings of this Office to people
who dare complain against the Complainant in their respective turfs.
Perhaps, top officials of this Office should investigate and ask their
associates and relatives incognito to file, even if on a pakunwari basis
only, complaints against the Complainant, and they would surely be
given the same rough and insulting treatment that Respondent
Villarez got when he filed his kidnapping charge here; 30
And in a Motion to Dismiss [the case] for Lack of Jurisdiction31 which
respondent filed, as counsel for his therein co-respondents-staffers of
the newspaper Hataw!, before the Office of the City Prosecutor of
Valenzuela City, respondent alleged:
xxxx
5. If the Complainant or its lawyer merely used even a little of
whatever is inside their thick skulls, they would have clearly
deduced that this Office has no jurisdiction over this
action.32 (Emphasis supplied)
xxxx
Meanwhile, on October 26, 2004, complainant filed a civil case against
respondent and several others, docketed as Civil Case No. 249-V04,33 before the Regional Trial Court, Valenzuela City and raffled to
Branch 75 thereof.
The pending cases against him and the issuance of a status quo order
notwithstanding, respondent continued to publish articles against
complainant34 and to malign complainant through his television shows.

Acting on the present administrative complaint, the Investigating


Commissioner of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) came up
with the following findings in his October 5, 2005 Report and
Recommendation:35
I.
xxxx
In Civil Case No. 249-V-04 entitled "Foodsphere, Inc. vs. Atty.
[Melanio] Mauricio, et al.", the Order dated 10 December 2004 (Annex
O of the Complaint) was issued by Presiding Judge Dionisio C.
Sison which in part reads:
"Anent the plaintiffs prayer for the issuance of a temporary
restraining order included in the instant plaintiffs motion, this Court,
inasmuch as the defendants failed to appear in court or file an
opposition thereto, is constrained to GRANT the said plaintiffs prater,
as it is GRANTED, in order to maintain STATUS QUO, and that all the
defendants, their agents, representatives or any person acting for and
in behalf are hereby restrained/enjoined from further publishing,
televising and/or broadcasting any matter subject of the Complaint in
the instant case more specifically the imputation of vices and/or
defects on plaintiff and its products."
Complainant alleged that the above-quoted Order was served on
respondent by the Branch Sheriff on 13 December 2004. Respondent
has not denied the issuance of the Order dated 10 December 2004 or
his receipt of a copy thereof on 13 December 2004.
Despite his receipt of the Order dated 10 December 2004, and the
clear directive therein addressed to him to desists [sic] from "further
publishing, televising and/or broadcasting any matter subject of the
Complaint in the instant case more specifically the imputation of vices
and/or defects on plaintiff and its products", respondent in clear
defiance of this Order came out with articles on the prohibited subject
matter in his column "Atty. Batas", 2004 in the December 16 and 17,
2004 issues of the tabloid "Balitang Bayan Toro" (Annexes Q and Q-1
of the Complaint).
The above actuations of respondent are also in violation of Rule 13.03
of the Canon of Professional Responsibilitywhich reads: "A lawyer
shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending
case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party."
II.
xxxx
In I.S. No. V.04-2917-2933, then pending before the Office of the City
Prosecutor of Valenzuela City, respondent filed his "Entry of
Appearance with Highly Urgent Motion to Elevate These Cases To the
Department of Justice". In said pleading, respondent made the
following statements:
xxxx

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

41

The above language employed by respondent undoubtedly casts


aspersions on the integrity of the Office of the City Prosecutor and all
the Prosecutors connected with said Office. Respondent clearly
assailed the impartiality and fairness of the said Office in handling
cases filed before it and did not even design to submit any evidence to
substantiate said wild allegations. The use by respondent of the abovequoted language in his pleadings is manifestly violative of Canon 11 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides: "A lawyer
[s]hall [o]bserve and [m]aintain [t]he [re]spect [d]ue [t]o [t]he [c]ourts
[a]nd [t]o [j]udicial [o]fficers [a]nd [s]hould [i]nsist [o]n [s]imilar
[c]onduct [b]y [o]thers."
III.
The "Kasunduan" entered into by the Spouses Cordero and herein
complainant (Annex C of the Complaint) was admittedly prepared,
witnessed and signed by herein respondent.
xxxx
In its Order dated 16 August 2004, the Bureau of Food and Drugs
recognized that the said "Kasunduan" was not contrary to law, morals,
good customs, public order and policy, and this accordingly dismissed
the complaint filed by the Spouses Cordero against herein
complainant.
However, even after the execution of the "Kasunduan" and the
consequent dismissal of the complaint of his clients against herein
complainant, respondent inexplicably launched a media offensive
intended to disparage and put to ridicule herein complainant. On
record are the numerous articles of respondent published in 3 tabloids
commencing from 31 August to 17 December 2004 (Annexes G to Q1). As already above-stated, respondent continued to come out with
these articles against complainant in his tabloid columns despite a
temporary restraining order issued against him expressly prohibiting
such actions. Respondent did not deny that he indeed wrote said
articles and submitted them for publication in the tabloids.
Respondent claims that he was prompted by his sense of public
service, that is, to expose the defects of complainants products to the
consuming public. Complainant claims that there is a baser motive to
the actions of respondent. Complainant avers that respondent
retaliated for complainants failure to give in to respondents "request"
that complainant advertise in the tabloids and television programs of
respondent. Complainants explanation is more credible. Nevertheless,
whatever the true motive of respondent for his barrage of articles
against complainant does not detract from the fact that respondent
consciously violated the spirit behind the "Kasunduan" which he
himself prepared and signed and submitted to the BFAD for approval.
Respondent was less than forthright when he prepared said

"Kasunduan" and then turned around and proceeded to lambaste


complainant for what was supposedly already settled in said
agreement. Complainant would have been better of with the BFAD
case proceeding as it could have defended itself against the charges of
the Spouses Cordero. Complainant was helpless against the attacks of
respondent, a media personality. The actuations of respondent
constituted, to say the least, deceitful conduct contemplated under
Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.36 (Underscoring supplied)
The IBP Board of Governors, by Resolution No. XVIII-2006-114 dated
March 20, 2006, adopted the findings and recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner to suspend respondent from the practice
of law for two years.
The Court finds the findings/evaluation of the IBP well-taken.
The Court, once again, takes this occasion to emphasize the necessity
for every lawyer to act and comport himself in a manner that promotes
public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession, 37 which
confidence may be eroded by the irresponsible and improper conduct
of a member of the bar.
By the above-recited acts, respondent violated Rule 1.01 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility which mandates lawyers to refrain from
engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. For, as
the IBP found, he engaged in deceitful conduct by, inter alia, taking
advantage of the complaint against CDO to advance his interest to
obtain funds for his Batas Foundation and seek sponsorships and
advertisements for the tabloids and his television program.
He also violated Rule 13.02 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, which mandates:
A lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a
pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party.
For despite the pendency of the civil case against him and the
issuance of a status quo order restraining/enjoining further publishing,
televising and broadcasting of any matter relative to the complaint of
CDO, respondent continued with his attacks against complainant and
its products. At the same time, respondent violated Canon 1 also of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, which mandates lawyers to
"uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote
respect for law and legal processes." For he defied said status quo
order, despite his (respondents) oath as a member of the legal
profession to "obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly
constituted authorities."
Further, respondent violated Canon 8 and Rule 8.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility which mandate, viz:

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

42

CANON 8 - A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and


candor toward his professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing
tactics against opposing counsel.
Rule 8.01 A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use
language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper, by using
intemperate language.
Apropos is the following reminder in Saberon v. Larong:38
To be sure, the adversarial nature of our legal system has tempted
members of the bar to use strong language in pursuit of their duty to
advance the interests of their clients.
However, while a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor and
courage, such enthusiasm does not justify the use of offensive and
abusive language. Language abounds with countless possibilities for
one to be emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory,
illuminating but not offensive.1awphi1
On many occasions, the Court has reminded members of the Bar
to abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact
prejudicial to the honor and reputation of a party or witness, unless
required by the justice of the cause with which he is charged. In
keeping with the dignity of the legal profession, a lawyers language
even in his pleadings must be dignified.39 (Underscoring supplied)
By failing to live up to his oath and to comply with the exacting
standards of the legal profession, respondent alsoviolated Canon 7 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility, which directs a lawyer to "at
all times uphold the integrity and the dignity of the legal
profession."401avvph!1
The power of the media to form or influence public opinion cannot be
underestimated. In Dalisay v. Mauricio, Jr.,41 the therein complainant
engaged therein-herein respondents services as "she was impressed
by the pro-poor and pro-justice advocacy of respondent, a media
personality,"42 only to later find out that after he demanded and the
therein complainant paid an exorbitant fee, no action was taken nor
any pleadings prepared by him. Respondent was suspended for six
months.
On reading the articles respondent published, not to mention listening
to him over the radio and watching him on television, it cannot be
gainsaid that the same could, to a certain extent, have affected the
sales of complainant.
Back to Dalisay, this Court, in denying therein-herein respondents
motion for reconsideration, took note of the fact that respondent was
motivated by vindictiveness when he filed falsification charges against
the therein complainant.43
To the Court, suspension of respondent from the practice of law for
three years is, in the premises, sufficient.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Melanio Mauricio is, for violation of the lawyers


oath and breach of ethics of the legal profession as embodied in the
Code of Professional Responsibility, SUSPENDED from the practice of
law for three years effective upon his receipt of this Decision. He is
warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with
more severely.
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to his personal record and
copies furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of
the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts.
SO ORDERED.
[A.C. No. 5379. May 9, 2003]
WALTER
T.
YOUNG, complainant,
vs.
CEASAR
G.
BATUEGAS, MIGUELITO NAZARENO V. LLANTINO and
FRANKLIN Q. SUSA, respondents.
RESOLUTION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
On December 29, 2000, Atty. Walter T. Young filed a Verified
Affidavit-Complaint for disbarment against Attys. Ceasar G. Batuegas,
Miguelito Nazareno V. Llantino and Franklin Q. Susa for allegedly
committing deliberate falsehood in court and violating the lawyers
oath.[1]
Complainant is the private prosecutor in Criminal Case No. 00187627 for Murder, entitled People of the Philippines versus Crisanto
Arana, Jr., pending before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch
27. On December 13, 2000, respondents Batuegas and Llantino, as
counsel for accused, filed a Manifestation with Motion for Bail,
alleging that the accused has voluntarily surrendered to a person in
authority. As such, he is now under detention.[2] Upon personal
verification with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) where
accused Arana allegedly surrendered, complainant learned that he
surrendered only on December 14, 2000, as shown by the Certificate
of Detention executed by Atty. Rogelio M. Mamauag, Chief of the
Security Management Division of the NBI.
Respondent Susa, the Branch Clerk of Court of RTC of Manila,
Branch 27, calendared the motion on December 15, 2000 despite the
foregoing irregularity and other formal defects, namely, the lack of
notice of hearing to the private complainant, violation of the three-day

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

43

notice rule, and the failure to attach the Certificate of Detention which
was referred to in the Motion as Annex 1.
Respondents filed their respective comments, declaring that on
December 13, 2000, upon learning that a warrant of arrest was issued
against their client, they filed the Manifestation with Motion for Bail
with the trial court. Then they immediately fetched the accused in
Cavite and brought him to the NBI to voluntarily surrender. However,
due to heavy traffic, they arrived at the NBI at 2:00 a.m. the next day;
hence, the certificate of detention indicated that the accused
surrendered on December 14, 2000. They argued that there was
neither unethical conduct nor falsehood in the subject pleading as
their client has voluntarily surrendered and was detained at the
NBI. As regards the lack of notice of hearing, they contend that
complainant, as private prosecutor, was not entitled to any
notice. Nevertheless, they furnished the State and City prosecutors
copies of the motion with notice of hearing thereof. Moreover, the
hearing of a motion on shorter notice is allowed under Rule 15, Sec.
4(2) of the Rules of Court.[3]
For his part, respondent Susa argues in his comment that he was
no longer in court when his co-respondents filed the Manifestation
with Motion for Bail. Ms. Teofila A. Pea, Clerk III, received the said
Motion and noticed that it was set for hearing on December 15, 2000
and the Certificate of Detention was not attached. However, the
presiding judge instructed her to receive the Motion subject to the
presentation of the Certificate of Detention before the hearing. Thus,
the inclusion of the Motion in the courts calendar on December 15,
2000 was authorized by the presiding judge and, thus, was done by
respondent Susa in faithful performance of his ministerial duty.
In a Resolution dated August 13, 2001, [4] the instant case was
referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation,
report and recommendation or decision.
On December 7, 2001, the Investigating Commissioner, Rebecca
Villanueva-Maala, submitted her report and recommendation as
follows:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, it is respectfully
recommended that Atty. Ceasar G. Batuegas and Atty. Miguelito
Nazareno V. Llantino be suspended from the practice of their
profession as a lawyer/member of the Bar for a period of six (6)
months from receipt hereof. The complaint against Atty. Franklin Q.
Susa, upon the other hand, is hereby recommended dismissed for lack
of merit.[5]

The foregoing Report and Recommendation was adopted and


approved by the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline in Resolution No.
XV-2002-400, to wit:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
Resolution/Decision as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation
fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and
rules, and in view of respondents commission of deliberate falsehood,
Atty. Batuegas and Atty. Llantino are hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for six (6) months. The complaint against Atty. Susa is
hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.[6]
We agree with the findings and recommendations of the
Investigating Commissioner. Respondents Batuegas and Llantino are
guilty of deliberate falsehood.
A lawyer must be a disciple of truth. [7] He swore upon his
admission to the Bar that he will do no falsehood nor consent to the
doing of any in court and he shall conduct himself as a lawyer
according to the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good
fidelity as well to the courts as to his clients. [8] He should bear in
mind that as an officer of the court his high vocation is to correctly
inform the court upon the law and the facts of the case and to aid it in
doing justice and arriving at correct conclusion.[9] The courts, on the
other hand, are entitled to expect only complete honesty from lawyers
appearing and pleading before them. [10] While a lawyer has the solemn
duty to defend his clients rights and is expected to display the utmost
zeal in defense of his clients cause, his conduct must never be at the
expense of truth.[11]
The Court may disbar or suspend a lawyer for misconduct,
whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be
wanting in moral character, in honesty, probity, and good demeanor,
thus proving unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.[12]
Evidently, respondent lawyers fell short of the duties and
responsibilities expected
from them as members of the
bar. Anticipating that their Motion for Bail will be denied by the court
if it found that it had no jurisdiction over the person of the accused,
they craftily concealed the truth by alleging that accused had
voluntarily surrendered to a person in authority and was under
detention. Obviously, such artifice was a deliberate ruse to mislead
the court and thereby contribute to injustice. To knowingly allege an
untrue statement of fact in the pleading is a contemptuous conduct

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

44

that we strongly condemn. They violated their oath when they


resorted to deception.
Respondents contend that their allegation of the accuseds
detention was merely a statement of an ultimate fact which still had to
be proved by evidence at the hearing of the Motion. That they were
able to show that their client was already under the custody of the NBI
at the hearing held on December 15, 2000 does not exonerate
them. The fact remains that the allegation that the accused was in the
custody of the NBI on December 13, 2000 was false.
In Comia vs. Antona, we held:
It is of no moment that the accused eventually surrendered to the
police authorities on the same date tentatively scheduled for the
hearing of the application for bail. To our mind, such supervening
event is of no bearing and immaterial; it does not absolve respondent
judge from administrative liability considering that he should not have
accorded recognition to the application for bail filed on behalf of
persons who, at that point, were devoid of personality to ask such
specific affirmative relief from the court.[13]
In this jurisdiction, whether bail is a matter of right or discretion,
reasonable notice of hearing is required to be given to the prosecutor
or fiscal, or at least, he must be asked for his recommendation.[14]
In the case at bar, the prosecution was served with notice of
hearing of the motion for bail two days prior to the scheduled
date. Although a motion may be heard on short notice, respondents
failed to show any good cause to justify the non-observance of the
three-day notice rule. Verily, as lawyers, they are obliged to observe
the rules of procedure and not to misuse them to defeat the ends of
justice.[15]
Finally, we are in accord with the Investigating Commissioner
that respondent clerk of court should not be made administratively
liable for including the Motion in the calendar of the trial court,
considering that it was authorized by the presiding judge. However,
he is reminded that his administrative functions, although not
involving the discretion or judgment of a judge, are vital to the prompt
and sound administration of justice.[16] Thus, he should not hesitate to
inform the judge if he should find any act or conduct on the part of
lawyers which are contrary to the established rules of procedure.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Attys. Ceasar
G. Batuegas, Miguelito Nazareno V. Llantino are found guilty of
committing
deliberate
falsehood. Accordingly,
they
are SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6)

months with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act will
be dealt with more severely.
Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to the personal records
of Attys. Ceasar G. Batuegas and Miguelito Nazareno V. Llantino in the
Office of the Bar Confidant and copies thereof be furnished the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., Vitug, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
December 3, 1948
In re Investigation of ANGEL J. PARAZO for alleged leakage of
questions in some subjects in the 1948 Bar Examinations.
Felixberto M. Serrano for respondent.
Enrique M. Fernando and Francisco A. Rodrigo, Abelardo Subido, and
Arturo A. Alafriz (for the Philippine Lawyers' Association) as amici
curiae.
MONTEMAYOR, J.:
The present case had its origin in a story or news item prepared and
written by the defendant, Angel J. Parazo, a duly accredited reporter of
the Star Reporter, a local daily of general circulation, that appeared
on the front page of the issue of September 14, 1948. The story was
preceded by the headline in large letters "CLAIM 'LEAK' IN LAST
BAR TESTS," followed by another in slightly smaller letters
"Applicants In Uproar, Want Anomaly Probed; One School Favored,"
under the name "By Angel J. Parazo of the Star Reporter Staff." For
purposes of reference we quote the news item in full:
Leakage in some subjects in the recent bar examinations were
denounced by some of the law graduates who took part in the
tests, to the Star Reporter this morning.
These examinees claim to have seen mimeograph copies of the
questions in one subject, days before the tests were given, in
the Philippine Normal School.
Only students of one private university in Sampaloc had those
mimeographed questions on said subject fully one week before
the tests.
The students who made the denunciation to the Star
Reporter claim that the tests actually given were similar in
every respect to those they had seen students of this private
university holding proudly around the city.
The students who claim to have seen the tests which leaked
are demanding that the Supreme Court institute an immediate
probe into the matter, to find out the source of the leakage,

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

45

and annul the test papers of the students of the particular


university possessed of those tests before the examinations.
The discovery of the alleged leakage in the tests of the bar
examinations came close on the heels of the revelations in
the Philippine Collegian, official organ of the student body of
the University of the Philippines, on recent government tests
wherein the questions had come into the possession of nearly
all the graduates of some private technical schools.
To the publication, evidently, the attention of the Supreme Court must
have been called, and Mr. Justice Padilla, who had previously been
designated Chairman of the Committee of Bar Examiners for this year,
by authority of the Court, instructed Mr. Jose de la Cruz as
Commissioner with the assistance of Mr. E. Soriano, Clerk of Court to
cite Mr. Parazo for questioning and investigation. In this connection,
and for purposes of showing the interest of the Supreme Court in the
news item and its implications, it may here be stated that this Court is
and for many years has been, in charge of the Bar Examinations held
every year, including that of this year, held in August, 1948. Section
13, Article VIII of the Constitution of the Philippines authorizes this
Court to promulgate rules concerning admission to the practice of law,
and pursuant to that authority, Rule 127 of the Rules of Court was
promulgated, under which rule, this Court conducts the Bar
Examinations yearly, appoints a Committee of Bar Examiners to be
presided by one of the Justices, to serve for one year, acts on the
report of the committee and finally, admits to the Bar and to the
practice of law, the candidates and examinees who have passed the
examinations.
The investigation of Mr. Parazo was conducted on September 18,
1948, on which occasion he testified under oath and, answering
questions directed to him by Messrs. Cruz and Soriano admitted that
he was the author of the news item; that he wrote up the story and
had it published, in good faith and in a spirit of public service; and that
he knew the persons who gave him the information which formed the
basis of his publication but that he declined to reveal their names
because the information was given to him in confidence and his
informants did not wish to have their identities revealed. The
investigators informed Parazo that this was a serious matter involving
the confidence of the public in the regularity and cleanliness of the
Bar Examinations and also in the Supreme Court which conducted
said examinations, and repeatedly appealed to his civic spirit and
sense of public service, pleading with and urging him to reveal the
names of his informants so that the Supreme Court may be in a
position to start and conduct the necessary investigation in order to
verify their charge and complaint and take action against the party or
parties responsible for the alleged irregularity and anomaly, if found
true, but Parazo consistently refused to make the revelation.

In the meantime, the writer of this opinion who was appointed to the
Supreme Court as associate Justice in the latter part of August, 1948,
was designated to succeed Mr. Justice Padilla as Chairman of the
Committee of Bar Examiners when the said Justice was appointed
Secretary of Justice. The writer of this opinion was furnished a copy of
the transcript of the investigation conducted on September 18, 1948,
and he made a report thereof to the Court in banc, resulting in the
issuance of the resolution of this Court dated October 7, 1948, which
reads as follows:
In relation with the news item that appeared in the front page
of the Star Reporter, issue of September 14, 1948, regarding
alleged leakage in some bar examination questions, which
examinations were held in August 1948, Mr. Jose de la Cruz, as
Commissioner, and Mr. E. Soriano, as Clerk of Court, were
authorized by Mr. Justice Sabino Padilla then chairman of the
committee of bar examiners to conduct an investigation
thereof, particularly to receive the testimony of Mr. Angel J.
Parazo, the reporter responsible for and author of said news
item. An investigation was conducted on September 18, 1948;
stenographic notes were taken of the testimony of Mr. Parazo,
and Mr. Justice Marcelino R. Montemayor, the new chairman
of the committee of bar examiners, has submitted the
transcript of said notes for the consideration of this Court.
From the record of said investigation, it is clear that Mr.
Parazo has deliberately and consistently declined and refused
to reveal the identity of the persons supposed to have given
him the data and information on which his news item was
based, despite the repeated appeals made to his civic spirit,
and for his cooperations, in order to enable this Court to
conduct a thorough investigation of the alleged bar
examination anomaly, Resolved, to authorize Mr. Justice
Montemayor to cite Mr. Parazo before him, explain to him that
the interests of the State demand and so this Court requires
that he reveal the source or sources of his information and of
his news item, and to warn him that his refusal to make the
revelation demanded will be regarded as contempt of court
and penalized accordingly. Mr. Justice Montemayor will advise
the Court of the result.
Acting upon this resolution, the writer of this opinion cited Mr. Parazo
to appear before him on October 13, 1948. He appeared on the date
set and it was clearly explained to him that the interest of the State
demands and this court requires that he reveal the source of sources
of his information and of his news item; that this was a very serious
matter involving the confidence of the people in general and the law
practitioners and bar examinees in particular, in the regularity and
cleanliness of the bar examinations; that it also involves the good
name and reputation of the bar examiners who are appointed by this

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

46

Court to prepare the bar examinations questions and later pass upon
and correct the examinations questions and last but not least, it also
involves and is bound to affect the confidence of the whole country in
the very Supreme Court which is conducting the bar examinations. It
was further explained to him that the Supreme Court is keenly
interested in investigating the alleged anomaly and leakage of the
examination questions and is determined to punish the party or parties
responsible therefor but that without his help, specially the identities
of the persons who furnished him the information and who could give
the court the necessary data and evidence, the Court could not even
begin the investigation because there would be no basis from which to
start, not even a clue from which to formulate a theory. Lastly, Parazo
was told that under the law he could be punished if he refused to make
the revelation, punishment which may even involve imprisonment.
Because of the seriousness of the matter, Parazo was advised to think
it over and consider the consequences, and if he need time within
which to do this and so that he might even consult the editor and
publisher of his paper, the Star Reporter, he could be given an
extension of time, and at his request, the investigation was postponed
to October 15, 1948. On that date he appeared, accompanied by his
counsel, Atty. Felixberto M. Serrano. The writer of this opinion in the
presence of his counsel, several newspapermen, Clerk of Court
Soriano, Deputy Clerk of Court Cruz, and Mr. Chanliongco made a
formal demand on Mr. Parazo to reveal the identities of his informants,
under oath, but he declined and refused to make the revelation. At the
request of his counsel, that before this Court take action upon his
refusal to reveal, he be accorded a hearing, with the consent of the
Court first obtained, a public hearing was held on the same day,
October 15, 1948 in the course of which, Attorney Serrano extensively
and ably argued the case of his client, invoking the benefits of
Republic Act No. 53, the first section of which reads as follows:
SECTION 1. The publisher, editor or duly accredited reporter
of any newspaper, magazine or periodical of general
circulation cannot be compelled to reveal the source of any
news-report or information appearing in said publication
which was related in confidence to such publisher, editor or
reporter, unless the court or a House or committee of
Congress finds that such revelation is demanded by the
interest of the state.
This Court has given this case prolonged, careful and mature
consideration, involving as it does interesting and important points of
law as well as questions of national importance. Counsel contends that
the phrase "interest of the state" found at the end of section 1 of
Republic Act No. 53 means and refers only to the security of the state,
that is to say that only when National Security or public safety is
involved, may this Court compel the defendant to reveal the source or
sources of his news report or information. We confess that it was not

easy to decide this legal question on which the conviction or acquittal


of Parazo hinges. As a matter of facts, the vote of the Justice is not
unanimous.
In an effort to determine the intent of the Legislature that passed
Republic Act No. 53, particularly the Senate were it originated, we
examined the record of the proceedings in said legislative body when
this Act, then Senate Bill No. 6 was being discussed. We gathered from
the said record that the original bill prepared by Senator Sotto
provided that the immunity to be accorded a publisher, editor, or
reporter of any newspaper was absolute and that under no
circumstance could he be compelled to reveal the source of his
information or news report. The committee, however, under the
chairmanship of Senator Cuenco inserted an amendment or change,
by adding to the end of section 1 of the clause "unless the court finds
that such revelation is demanded by the public interest."
When the bill as amended was recommended for approval on second
reading, Senator Sotto, the author of the original bill proposed an
amendment by eliminating the clause added by the committee
"unless the court finds that such revelation is demanded by the public
interest," claiming that said clause would kill the purposed of the bill.
This amendment of Senator Sotto was discussed. Various Senators
objected to the elimination of the clause already referred to on the
ground that without such exception and by giving complete immunity
to editors, reporters, etc., many abuses may be committed. Senator
Cuenco, Committee chairman, in advocating the disapproval of the
Sotto amendment, and in defending the exception embodied in the
amendment introduced by the Committee, consisting in the clause:
"unless the court finds that such revelation is demanded by the public
interest," said that the Committee could not accept the Sotto
amendment because there may be cases, perhaps few, in which the
interest of the public or the interest of the state required that the
names of the informants be published or known. He gave as one
example a case of a newspaperman publishing information referring to
a theft of the plans of forts or fortifications. He argued that if the
immunity accorded a newspaperman should be absolute, as sought by
the Sotto amendment, the author of the theft might go scott-free.
When the Sotto amendment was put to a vote, it was disapproved.
Finally, Senator Sotto proposed another amendment by changing the
phrase "public interest" at the end of section 1 as amended by the
Committee be changed to and substituted by the phrase "interest of
the state," claiming that the phrase public interest was too elastic.
Without much discussion this last amendment was approved, and this
phrase is now found in the Act as finally approved.
In view of the contention now advanced, that the phrase "interest of
the state" is confined to cases involving the "security of the state"
or "public safety," one might wonder or speculate on why the last
amendment proposed by Senator Sotto, changing the phrase "public

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

47

interest" to "interest of the state," was approved without much


discussion. But we notice from the records of the deliberations on and
discussion of the bill in the Senate that the phrase "public interest"
was used interchangeably by some Senators with the phrase "interest
of the state." For instance, although the bill, as amended by the
Committee presided by Senator Cuenco, used the words "public
interest, "when Senator Cuenco sponsored the bill before the Senate
he used in his speech or remarks the phrase "interest of the State"
(interes del Estado). Again, although the bill, as sponsored by the
Cuenco Committee and discussed by the Senate, used the words
"public interest, "Senator Sebastian referred to the exception by using
the phrase "interest of the state." This understanding of at least two of
the Senators, who took part in the discussion, about the similarity or
interchangeability of the two phrases "public interest" and "interest of
the estate," may account for the readiness or lack of objection on the
part of the Senate, after it had rejected the first Sotto amendment, to
accept the second Sotto amendment, changing the phrase "public
interest" to "interest of the state."
In referring to a case wherein the security of the state or public
safety was involved, such as the theft of the plans of fortifications,
Senator Cuenco was obviously giving it only as an example of what he
meant by "interest of the state;" it was not meant to be the only case
or example. We do not propose to define or fix the limits or scope of
the phrase "interest of the state;" but we can say that the phrase
"interest of the state" can not be confined and limited to the "security
of the state" or to "public safety" alone. These synonymous phrases,
"security of the state" and "public safety," are not uncommon terms
and we can well presume that the legislators were familiar with them.
The phrase "public safety," is used in Article III, section 1(5) of the
Constitution of the Philippines, where it says that "the privacy of
communications and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon
lawful order of the court or when public safety and order require
otherwise;" and Article VII, section 10(2) of the same Constitution
provided that the President may suspend the privileges of the writ of
habeas corpus, in case of invasion, insurrection, etc., when the public
safety requires it.
The phrase "National Security" is used at the beginning of Book II of
the Revised Penal Code, thus: Title I, Crimes against National
Security and the law of Nations, Chapter I, Crimes against National
Security. Then, more recently, the phrase "National Security" was
used in section 2, and the phrase "public security" was equally used in
section 19, of Commonwealth Act No. 682 creating the People's Court,
promulgated on September 25, 1945. If, as contended, the Philippine
Congress, particularly the Philippine Senate, had meant to limit the
exception to the immunity of newspapermen only to cases where the
"security of the state," i.e., "National Security" is involved, it could
easily and readily have used such phrase or any one of similar phrases

like "public safety," "National Security," or "public security" of which it


must have been familiar. Since it did not do so, there is valid reason to
believe that that was not in the mind and intent of the legislators, and
that, in using the phrase "interest of the state," it extended the scope
and the limits of the exception when a newspaperman or reporter may
be compelled to reveal the sources of his information.
The phrase "interest of the state" is quite broad and extensive. It is of
course more general and broader than "security of the state."
Although not as broad and comprehensive as "public interest" which
may include most anything though of minor importance, but affecting
the public, such as for instance, the establishment and maintenance of
barrio roads, electric light and ice plants, parks, markets, etc., the
phrase "interest of the estate" even under a conservative
interpretation, may and does include cases and matters of national
importance in which the whole state and nations, not only a branch or
instrumentality thereof such as a province, city or town, or a part of
the public, is interested or would be affected, such as the principal
functions of Government like administration of justice, public school
system, and such matters like social justice, scientific research,
practice of law or of medicine, impeachment of high Government
officials, treaties with other nations, integrity of the three coordinate
branches of the Government, their relations to each other, and the
discharge of their functions, etc.
We are satisfied that the present case easily comes under the phrase
"interest of the state." Under constitutional provision, article VIII,
section 13, Constitution of the Philippines, the Supreme Court takes
charge of the admission of members to the Philippine Bar. By its Rules
of Court, it has prescribed the qualifications of the candidates to the
Bar Examinations, and it has equally prescribed the subject of the said
Bar Examinations. Every year, the Supreme Court appoints the Bar
examiners who prepare the questions, then correct the examination
papers submitted by the examinees, and later make their report to the
Supreme Court. Only those Bar Examination candidates who are found
to have obtained to passing grade are admitted to the Bar and licensed
to practice law. There are now thousands of members of the Philippine
Bar, scattered all over the Philippines, practicing law or occupying
important Government posts requiring membership in the Bar as a
prerequisite, and every year, quite a number, sometimes several
hundreds, are added to the legal fold. The Supreme Court and the
Philippine Bar have always tried to maintain a high standard for the
legal profession, both in academic preparation and legal training, as
well as in honesty and fair dealing. The Court and the licensed lawyers
themselves are vitally interested in keeping this high standard; and
one of the ways of achieving this end is to admit to the practice of this
noble profession only those persons who are known to be honest,
possess good moral character, and show proficiency in and knowledge
of the law by the standard set by this Court by passing the Bar

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

48

Examinations honestly and in the regular and usual manner. It is of


public knowledge that perhaps by general inclination or the conditions
obtaining in this country, or the great demand for the services of
licensed lawyers, law as compared to other professions, is the most
popular in these islands. The predominantly greater number of
members of the Bar, schools and colleges of law as compared to those
of other learned professions, attest to this fact. And one important
thing to bear in mind is that the Judiciary, from the Supreme Court
down to the Justice of the Peace Courts, provincial fiscalships and
other prosecuting attorneys, and the legal departments of the
Government, draw exclusively from the Bar to fill their positions.
Consequently, any charge or insinuation of anomaly in the conduct of
Bar Examinations, of necessity is imbued with wide and general
interest and national importance.
If it is true that Bar Examination questions, for some reason or
another, find their way out and get into the hands of Bar examinees
before the examinations are actually given, and as a result thereof
some examinees succeed in illegally and improperly obtaining passing
grades and are later admitted to the Bar and to the practice of law,
when otherwise they should not be, then the present members of the
legal profession would have reason to resent and be alarmed; and if
this is continued it would not be long before the legal profession will
have fallen into disrepute. The public would naturally lose confidence
in the lawyers, specially in the new ones, because a person
contemplating to go to court to seek redress or to defend himself
before it would not know whether a particular lawyer to whom he is
entrusting his case has legally passed the Bar Examinations because
of sufficient and adequate preparation and training, and that he is
honest, or whether he was one of those who had succeeded in getting
hold of Bar Examination questions in advance, passed the Bar
Examinations illegally, and then started his legal career with this act
of dishonesty. Particularly, the Bar examinees who, by intense study
and conscientious preparations, have honestly passed the Bar
Examinations and are admitted to practice law, would be affected by
this anomaly, because they would ever be under a cloud of suspicion,
since from the point of view of the public, they might be among those
who had made use of Bar Examination questions obtained before
hand. And, incidentally, the morale of the hundreds of students and
graduates of the different law schools, studying law and later
preparing for the Bar Examinations, would be affected, even
disastrously, for in them may be born the idea that there is no need of
much law study and preparation inasmuch as it is possible and not
difficult to obtain copies of questions before the examinations and pass
them and be admitted to the Bar.
The cloud of suspicion would, equally, hang over the Bar examiners
themselves, eight eminent lawyers who in a spirit of public service and
civic spirit, have consented to serve on the Committee of Examiners at

the request and designation of this Court. They would be suspected,


one or two or more of them that through negligence, or connivance,
or downright corruption, they have made possible the release if they
have not themselves actually released, before examination day, the
questions they had prepared. The employees of the Supreme Court in
charge of the Bar Examinations, specially those who copy or
mimeograph the original copies furnished by the Bar examiners, would
all be under suspicion. And, lastly, and more important still, the
Supreme Court itself which has to overall supervision and control over
the examinations, would share the suspicion, as a result of which the
confidence of the people in this High Tribunal, which public
confidence, the members of this Court like to think and believe, it still
enjoys, might be affected and shaken. All these considerations of vital
importance, in our opinion, can and will sufficiently cause the present
case to fall and be included within the meaning of the phrase "interest
of the state," involving as it does, not only the interests of students
and graduates of the law schools and colleges, and of the entire legal
profession of this country as well as the good name and reputation of
the members of the Committee of Bar Examiners, including the
employees of the Supreme Court having charge of and connections
with said examinations, but also the highest Tribunal of the land itself
which represents one of the three coordinate and independent
branches or departments of the Philippine Government.
In support of if not in addition to the power granted by section 1 of
Republic Act. No. 53 to this Court, we have the inherent power of
courts in general, specially of the Supreme Court as representative of
the Judicial Department, to adopt proper and adequate measures to
preserve their integrity, and render possible and facilitate the exercise
of their functions, including, as in the present case, the investigation
of charges of error, abuse or misconduct of their officials and
subordinates, including lawyers, who are officers of the Court.
(Province of Tarlac vs. Gale, 26 Phil., 350; 21 C.J.S. 41, 138.) As we
have previously stated, the revelation demanded of the respondent, of
the identity of his informants, is essential and necessary to the
investigation of the charge contained in the publication already
mentioned.
It will be noticed from Parazo's news item as quoted in the first part of
this decision, that, informants, law graduates and bar examinees, were
denouncing the supposed anomaly consisting of the alleged leakage
of the Bar Examination questions to the Supreme Court for due
investigation. If those persons really meant and intended to make
a bona fide and effective denunciation, with expectation of results, the
right place to air their grievance was the Supreme Court itself, not a
newspaper; and if they truly wanted an investigation, they should have
come forward and furnished or stood ready to furnish the facts on
which to base and from which to start an investigation, instead of
concealing themselves behind the curtain of press immunity.

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

49

Examining the news item in question, it is therein claimed and assured


that Bar Examination questions in at least one subject had been
obtained and used by bar examinees coming from a certain university,
one week before the examinations were actually held. Parazo in his
statements and answers during the investigation said that examination
questions in several subjects were involved in the anomaly. But no
copy or copies of said examination questions were furnished us. No
one is willing to testify that he actually saw said alleged copies of
examination questions; that they were actually and carefully compared
with the legitimate examination questions given out on the day of the
examination and found to be identical; no one is ready and willing to
reveal the identity of the persons or bar examinees said to have been
seen with the said Bar Examination questions, although they as well as
the university where they came from, was known; and even the law
subjects to which the questions pertained are not disclosed; and,
lastly, we are not allowed to know even the identity of respondent
Parazo's informants who claim to have seen all these things.
In this connection it may be stated that in the las Bar Examinations
held in August, 1948, approximately nine hundred candidates took
them, each candidate writing his answers in a book for each subject.
There were eight subjects, each belonging to and corresponding to
each one of the eight bar examiners. There were therefore eight sets
of bar examination questions, and multiplying these eight sets of
questions by nine hundred candidates, gives a total of seven thousand
two hundred (7,200) examination papers involved, in the hand of eight
different examiners. The examination books or papers bear no names
or identifications of their writers or owners and said ownership and
identification will not be known until the books or papers are all
corrected and graded. Without definite assurance based on reliable
witnesses under oath that the alleged anomaly had actually been
committed, evidence on the identity of the persons in possession of
the alleged copies of questions prematurely released or illegally
obtained and made use of, the law subjects or subjects involved, the
university from which said persons come, this Court does not feel
capable of or warranted in taking any step, such as blindly and
desperately revising each and every one of the 7,200 examination
books with the fond but forlorn hope of finding any similarity or
identity in the answers of any group of examinees and basing thereon
any definite finding or conclusion. Apart from the enormity of the task
and its hopelessness, this Court may not and cannot base its findings
and conclusions, especially in any serious and delicate matter as is the
present, on that kind of evidence. Under these circumstances, this
Court, for lack of basis, data and information, is unable to conduct,
nay, even start, an investigation; and, unless and until the respondent
herein reveals the identities of his informants, and those informants
and or others with facts and reliable evidence, aid and cooperate with
the Court in its endeavor to further examine and probe into the

charges contained in the news items, said charges are considered and
held to be without basis, proof or foundation.
When the Supreme Court decided to demand of the respondent herein
that he reveal the names of his informants, it was not impelled or
motivated by mere idle curiosity. It truly wanted information on which
to start an investigation because it is vitally interested in keeping the
Bar Examinations clean and above board and specially, not only to
protect the members of the Bar and those aspiring for membership
therein and the public dealing with the members thereof and the Bar
Examiners who cooperate with and act as agents of this Court in
preparing the examination questions and correcting the examination
papers, but also, as already stated, to keep the confidence of the
people in this High Tribunal as regards the discharge of its function
relative to the admission to the practice of law. These, it can only do
by investigating any Bar Examination anomaly, fixing responsibility
and punishing those found guilty, even annulling examinations already
held, or else declaring the charges as not proven, if, as a result of the
investigation, it is found that there is insufficiency or lack of evidence.
In demanding from the respondent that he reveal the sources of his
information, this Court did not intend to punish those informants or
hold them liable. It merely wanted their help and cooperation. In this
Court's endeavor to probe thoroughly the anomaly, or irregularity
allegedly committed, it was its intention not only to adopt the
necessary measures to punish the guilty parties, if the charges are
found to be true, but also even to annul the examinations themselves,
in justice to the innocent parties who had taken but did not pass the
examinations. We say this because in every examination, whether
conducted by the Government or by a private institution, certain
standards are unconsciously adopted on which to base the passing
grade. For instance, if, as a result of the correction of many or all of
the examination papers, it is found that only very few have passed it,
the examiner might reasonably think that the questions he gave were
unduly difficult or hard to understand, or too long, as a result of which
he may be more liberal and be more lenient and make allowances. On
the hand, if too many obtain passing grade, the examiner may think
that the examination questions were too easy and constitute an
inadequate measure of the legal knowledge and training required to
be a lawyer, and so he may raise his standard and become more strict
in his correction of the papers and his appreciation of the answers. So,
in a case where examinees, especially if many, succeed in getting hold
of questions long before examinations day, and study and prepare the
answers to those questions, it may result that when the examiner finds
that many of the examinees have easily and correctly answered the
questions, he may think that said questions were too easy, raise the
standard by being strict in his correction of the papers, thereby giving
a grade below passing to a number of examinees who otherwise would
have validly passed the examinations.

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

50

In conclusion, we find that the interest of the state in the present case
demands that the respondent Angel J. Parazo reveal the source or
sources of his information which formed the basis of his news items or
story in the September 14, 1948 issue of the Star Reporter, quoted at
the beginning of his decision, and that, in refusing to make the
revelation which this Court required of him, he committed contempt of
Court. The respondent repeatedly stated during the investigation that
he knew the names and identities of the persons who furnished him
the information. In other words, he omitted and still refuses to do an
act commanded by this Court which is yet in his power to perform.
(Rule 64, section 7, Rules of Court.)Ordinarily, in such cases, he can
and should be imprisoned indefinitely until he complied with the
demand. However, considering that case like the present are not
common or frequent, in this jurisdiction, and that there is no reason
and immediate necessity for imposing a heavy penalty, as may be done
in other cases where it is advisable or necessary to mete out severe
penalties to meet a situation of an alarming number of cases of a
certain offense or a crime wave, and, considering further the youthful
age of the respondent, the majority of the members of this Court have
decided to order, as it hereby orders, his immediate arrest and
confinement in jail for a period of one (1) month, unless, before the
expiration of that period he makes to this Court the revelation
demanded of him. So ordered.
Moran, C.J., Ozaeta, Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, and Tuason, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions
Perfecto, J., concurring and dissenting:
The facts in this case, as narrated in the decision penned by Mr.
Justice Montemayor, justify conclusively the finding of the majority
that respondent is guilty of contempt for his stubborn refusal to obey
an order of this Court.
Section 1 of Republic Act No. 53, invoked by respondent in his
defense, does not protect him. It would protect him only if we could
agree with his theory that the words "interest of the state" used in the
law should be read to mean security of the state or public safety. But
there is nothing in the whole text of Republic Act No. 53 and/or in the
intention of those who drafted and enacted it, as can be gleaned in the
Senate journal, or in the grammatical, rhetorical, or philosophical
meaning of the words in question, that can justify the limiting or
narrowing of the scope of the ideas that they embrace within the small
circle of public security or safety of the state.
The word "interest" in the phrase "interest of the state" represents a
world of ideas and concepts within the ideas of security or safety
occupy a place, however privileged, insignificant in magnitude. There
is no legal basis for us to reduce the purpose of the law, as conveyed
by its very words, to a minimum that, if given effect, would virtually

amend the law without the benefit of congressional enactment. Such


would be violative of the Constitution.
In the tug of war between the theory of absolute privilege of the
author of the original bill and the Senate committee that would limit
the privilege up to the point where it runs in conflict with the wide
area of public interest, the opposing sides arrived at a meeting ground
in which the line of limitation was pushed up to the place where the
privilege may be in conflict with the interest of the state. No one is
authorized to push that line of limitation still farther to the fence
surrounding the safety of the state. We have to stop at the line of
limitation set by Congress. To hurdle it is to transgress the law.
No matter how much we may agree with the side maintaining the
absolute privilege or reducing any limitation to an imaginable
minimum, or how much we may sympathize with its failure in the
Senate or in Congress, we are powerless to retrieve that side from its
plight. We are not authorized to inject in the statute a law of our own
creation, or make of a legislative failure a success, and thus defeat the
legislative intent. There is no alternative for the losing legislative side
except to bide for time and wait for a more respective mood of
Congress.
Contempt of court is an offense that should not be left unpunished,
especially if it consists in the disobedience of a judicial order. The
orders of a court demand obedience for their effectiveness.
Administration of justice is impossible with unenforceable judicial
orders. The effectiveness of judicial orders is the elan vital of the
administration of justice. To disobey an order of court is a terrible
thing because it means sowing the seeds of anarchy and chaos. The
Supreme Court, if it can help it, will never allow such a thing to obtain.
Anyone may imagine a state or a human society smoothly functioning
without an executive department or without a legislative department.
As a matter of fact, in this Republic, Congress functions only one third
of the year. During the remaining two thirds of the year the life of the
nation does not suffer any impairment. It can even be said that during
those two thirds of the year there is more normalcy than during the
Congressional session when legislative reforms and the enactment of
new laws cannot but produce some public uneasiness, sometimes,
amounting to a real crisis in the way of life of the people. No one can
imagine the possibility of an orderly human society without some
effective system of administration of justice, functioning without long
interruptions.
While we cannot overemphasize the importance of upholding judicial
authority to its full measure and this Supreme Court will never take
lightly any disobedience to or defiance of its orders, and it should mete
out to all affected parties the tremendous weight of its power and will
punish, without fear or favor, the guilty parties, regardless of who they
may be, in the present case we are constrained to disagree with the
penalty imposed upon respondent.

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

51

Respondent is punished under section 7 of Rule 64, the same section


we have already declared invalid in our opinion in the Harden case, 81
Phil., 741. The provision of law applicable to respondent is contained
in section 6 of Rule 64, under which a person guilty of contempt may
be fined in a sum not exceeding P1,000 or imprisoned for not more
than six months, or both. Considering that there are mitigating
circumstances that attenuate respondent's responsibility,
youthfulness, honest but wrong belief in the existence of a privilege,
absence of substantial harm, we should not impose upon
respondent a stiffer penalty than that which we imposed in the case of
Benito M. Sakdalan, L-2781, the very one which, as can be gleaned
from the Senate journal, prompted the enactment of Republic Act No.
53.
We cannot agree with the proviso in the majority opinion leaving to
respondent the discretion to reduce the imprisonment imposed by the
simple process of making the revelation exacted from him. The penalty
should be measured by the responsibility, and that measure cannot be
left at the discretion of the guilty one. His future revelation will not
diminish or in any way affect his responsibility for the offense he has
already perpetrated. His past disobedience cannot be attenuated by a
future action. The past cannot be remade. What has been done cannot
be undone. These are verities no one can eloign.
We vote to impose upon respondent two days of imprisonment.
PARAS, J., dissenting:
If, as insisted by the respondent, he wrote up and published in the
newspaper Star Reporter the story (Claim "Leak" in Last Bar Tests)
quoted in full in the decision of the majority, in good faith and in a
spirit of public service, he voluntarily should have revealed the
identities of his informants, thereby enabling this Court, conformably
to the alleged demands of denouncing bar examinees, to "institute an
immediate probe into the matter, to find out the source of the leakage,
and annual the test papers of the students of the particular university
possessed of those tests before the examinations." If he was in fact
motivated by a spirit of public service, he should at least have tried to
secure their consent to the revelation. The point I want to underscore
is that newspaper reporters should be fearless as well in publishing
stories as in substantiating their truth. And if I am constrained to
dissent from the ruling of the majority, it is only because the
respondent, in my opinion, cannot legally be compelled to make the
revelation, in view of Republic Act No. 53 which this Court is bound
to enforce providing that "the publisher, editor or duly accredited
reporter of any newspaper, magazine or periodical of general
circulation cannot be compelled to reveal the source of any newsreport or information appearing in said publication which was related
in confidence to such publisher, editor or reporter, unless the court or
a House or committee of Congress finds that such revelation is
demanded by the interest of the state." I have no hesitancy in

believing that the phrase "interest of the state," as used in the Act,
refers exclusively to matters affecting the security or safety of the
state.
In this connection, it is necessary to remember that the original bill
sponsored by Senator Sotto provided for absolute immunity. The
committee on revision of laws, however, inserted an amendment by
adding the clause "unless the court finds that such revelation is
demanded by the public interest." Senator Sotto's attempt to suppress
this clause failed, after which, in view of the remarks of the Chairman
of the committee presently to be mentioned, Senator Sotto proposed
to change the words "public interest" into "interest of the state," a
proposal that was readily accepted. Hence, the use of the latter phrase
in Republic Act No. 53.
Our task now is to discover the meaning and scope of the phrase
"interest of the state," as intended by the lawmakers. In this task, it is
important to recall that the original intention of the author of the bill
was to provide for absolute immunity, and this purpose should not of
course be unduly defeated by any subsequent exception, especially
when the limited sphere of the change is apparent from the
deliberations of the lawmakers. For instance, in explaining the reason
of the committee for opposing Senator Sotto's advocacy of absolute
immunity and of the suppression of the clause "unless the court finds
that such revelation is demanded by the public interest," added to the
original bill, Senator Cuenco gave the example of a newspaperman
who publishes an information regarding theft of plans of forts and
fortifications, in which case Senator Cuenco believed that "el interes
publico y el interes mismo del Estado requieran que se publique el
nombre del informante." Again, after proposing the change of "public
interest" to "interest of the state," Senator Sotto, when asked by
Senator Garcia as to the essential difference between the two phrases,
explained that "La diferencia esta en que puede haber un caso de
espionaje, como el citado por el Senador Cuenco, delito en que esta
interesado el Estado y no se puede discutir al autor, y la frase `public
interest' es muy elastica. En cambio, se se pone `interest of the state,'
claramente se entenderia que mediando el interes del Estado, el
periodista estara obligado a revelar la fuente de su informacion." Last
but not least, it should be noted that the Act in question was prompted
by the desire of its sponsor to prevent the repetition of the case of
Benito Sakdalan, a reporter who was imprisoned for refusing to reveal
the source of the information contained in a news item admittedly not
affecting, like the story published by the respondent, the security or
safety of the State. It logically follows that the phrase "interest of the
state" was intended to be limited to cases portrayed by the examples
(theft of plans of forts and fortifications and espionage), given during
the deliberations which solely affect the security or safety of the state.
It is immaterial whether the law did not employ phrases like "public
safety," "national Security," or "public security," or whether "public

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

52

interest" and "interest of the state" were interchangeably used in the


discussions, as long as in using the phrase "interest of the state" in Act
No. 53, the lawmakers definitely knew and accordingly recorded, by
specific examples, what they intended to convey. Conjectures cannot
prevail over the clear legislative intent.
The exception provided in the Act in question should be strictly
construed so as not to frustrate the main purpose of the law. This
would further make the law more consonant with the spirit of the
constitutional provisions that "the privacy of communication and
correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the
Court or when public safety and order require otherwise"(Article III,
section 1, paragraph 5), and that no law shall be passed abridging the
freedom of the press (Article III, section 1, paragraph 8).
It may not be amiss to add that the refusal of the respondent to
disclose the source of his information does not absolutely prevent this
Court from verifying, by any reasonable and feasible means, the truth
of the alleged anomaly; and it is certainly not required, by the mere
publication of the story in question, to admit the accuracy of said story
if its investigation should fail because of lack of evidence or of the
refusal of those who know to come out and testify.
In my opinion, the respondent has not committed any contempt of this
Court.
Briones, M., dissenting:
Deploro no podeer estar conforme con la decision de la mayoria sobre
este incidente. Me preocupa como al que mas el buen nobmre, el
prestigio, la respetabilidad de esta Corte Suprema baluarte
inexpugnable de las libertades y fueros civiles pero hay algo que me
preocupa mas y esla substancia misma de esas libertades y fueros. En
realidad, en tanto la Corte Suprema crece y se agiganta en el concepto
publico en cuanto ella se mantiene enhiesta en la cima de la cumbre
donde la coloca su categoria y constituye la ultima esperanza del
ciudadano cuando en su derredor todo parece crujir y requebrajarse.
El recurrido, Angel Parazo, es reportero del periodico diario "The Star
Reporter" que se edita en Manila. A raiz de los ultimos examenes de
abogacia, publico un articulo informativo en el que se decia que
algunos examinandos habian visto copias de algunos cuestionarios
antes de la celebracion de los examenes y que dichas copias fueron
utilizadas por los examinandos procedentes de cierta universidad
privada. El Magistrado encargado de los examenes emplazo al
recurrido para que explicase la noticia y diese los nombres de sus
informantes a fin de poder investigarles minuciosamente y ver la
manera de adoptar las medidas que fueran procedentes. El recurrido
comparecio, pero se nego en absoluto a revelar el origen de su
informacion. De ahi el presente expediente por desacato.
La controversia gira en torno a la interpretacion del articulo 1 de la
Ley de la Republica No. 53, aprobada por el Congreso en su ultimo
periodo de sesiones. Dicho articulo se lee como sigue:

El publicista, editor o reportero debidamente acreditado de


cualquier periodico, revista o publicacion periodica de
circulacion general, no puede ser compelido a revelar el
origen de cualquier noticia o informacion que le haya sido
transmitida en confianza y que haya aparecido en dicho
periodico, revista o publicacion, a menos que el tribunal o una
camara del Congreso o un comite del mismo halley y
determine que el interes del Estado requiere que se haga tal
revelacion.
Podemos tomar conocimiento judicial de las motivaciones de esta ley
como tema de historia contemporanea. Hace dos aos un juez del
Tribunal del Pueblo (People's Court) lanzo publicamente algunos
ataques contra esta Corte. Un periodista, Benito Sakdalan, se hizo eco
de dichos ataques publicando bajo su firma y responsabilidad un
articulo informativo acerca del particular. A instancia de parte, un
Magistrado de esta Corte mando emplazar a Sakdalan para una
investigacion del incidente. Sakdalan comparecio, pero cuando se le
pregunto de quien habia recibido su informacion, negose en absoluto a
hacer la revelacion exigid. El Magistrado de referencia ordeno
entonces que se le detuviera a Sakdalan en la escribania de esta Corte
por dos dias, en castigo por lo que se creyo un desacato.
El caso Sakdalan causo un revuelo tremendo en la prensa,
despertando entre sus camaradas una general simpatia perfectamente
explicable. Sakdalan se convirtio en heroe del dia, por lo menos en las
columnas de los periodicos. El tono predominante de los comentarios
periodisticos era que Sakdalan estaba justificado en su negativa,que el
sagrado de la conciencia del periodista debia ser respetado, y que la
orden de detencion constituia una violacionde la libertad de la prensa.
El revuelo repercutio en los circulos legislativos, culminando en las
aprobacion de la Ley de la Republica No. 53 que nos ocupa.
Resulta importante y util destacar este fondo historico, pues por ello
se explican ciertas caracteristicas del proyecto de ley original
presentado en el Senado. Una de las mas salientes, por ejemplo, era lo
absoluto del privilegio: no se proveia ninguna excepcion, ninguna
salvedad, no pudiendose obligar al periodista a revelar el origen de su
informacion bajo ninguna circunstancia.
La medida tiene antecedentes bien conocidos en nuestra misma
legislacion. Primeramente en el antiguo Codigo de Procedimiento
Civil, y ahora en el Reglamento de los Tribunales, figuran ciertas
disposiciones que restringen la libertad para testificar o el derecho de
examinar a ciertos testigos sobre determinadas materias. Verbigracia,
en nuestra ley sobre pruebas y evidencias, regla 123, seccion 26, se
provee lo siguiente:
xxx
xxx
xxx
(e) El abogado no puede, sin el consentimiento de su cliente,
ser examinado respecto a una conversacion que tuvo con este,
o acerca de algun consejo que le diera como tal, ni tampoco el

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

53

secretario,taquigrafo o empleado de un abogado, sin el


consentimiento del cliente y del abogado, pueden ser
examinados respecto a un hecho cuyo conocimiento hayan
adquirido en el desempeo de sus deberes.
(f) A ninguna persona debidemante autorizada para ejercer la
medicina, la cirugia o la obstetricia, se obligara en alguna
causa civil, a revelar, sin el consentimento del paciente,
cualquier informe que dicha persona haya adquirido al sistir al
paciente con caracter profesional, que necesariamente hubo
de adquirir para poder obrar con tal caracter, y que tienda a
denigrar la dignidad del paciente.
(g) El clerigo o sacerdote no puede ser examinado sin el
consentimiento de su penitente, respecto a la confesion que le
haya hehco este, en su caracter sacerdotal, y en cumplimiento
de los deberes que le impone la religion a que pertenece.
(h) El funcionario publico no puede ser examinado mientras
este en el ejercicio de su cargo, o despues, respecto a lo que
se le hubiese comunicado en confidencia oficial, cuando el
tribunal determine que el interes poublico se perjudicara con
la revelacion.
Es indudable que la medida coloca al periodista en la categoria de
estas exenciones especialisimas, situandole al nivel del sacerdote, del
abogado y del medico. El Senador Cuenco, ponente del proyecto de ley
al ponerse a discusion, dijo en parte lo que sigue a modo de
explicacion de sus elevados fines:
El proyecto de ley que esta ahora bajo la consideracion de esta
Camara tiene por objeto eximir al director, redactor o reporter
de un periodico, de la obligacion de revelar el nombre de la
persona de quien haya obtenido una informacion, a menos que
el interes del Estado asi lo requiera. La legislacion que se trata
de dictar ne es del todo nueva. Nuestra ley procesal considera
como privilegiada y digna de ser mantenida en secreto toda
communicacion recibida por el sacerdote, el abogado y el
medico en el ejercicio de su ministerio o profesion. El proyecto
no solo dignifica y eleva la profesion periodistica, sino que da
facilidades a los periodicos para obtener noticias. (El
subrayado es nuestro.)
El periodismo, mas que un medio para obtener bienes
materiales, es un apostolado, un sacerdocio. El periodista no
es un mercachifle, sino una persona llamada a cumplir una
mision elevada, sublime, augusta. La hoja periodica es catedra.
De ella irradia la luz que difunde la cultura, la instruccion, los
principios eticos y morales, las reglas de una ciudadania
honrada y patriotica. (Diario de sesiiones del Senado, Julio 9,
1946.)
Elevar y ennoblecer la profesion del periodista y dar facilidades a los
periodicos para obtener una informacion honrada, veridica, imparcial

y constructiva cometido essencial de una buena prensa, digna del


apelativo de cuarto poder del Estado tal es el objeto fundamental de
la medida, en franse definidora del Senador Cuenco, ponente de la
misma y chairman del comite de revision de leyes del Senado. Es
importante destacar esta motivacion legislativa, pues ello nos ayuda,
al interpretar la ley, a determinar si el privilegio debe ser entendido
rigidamente en contra o liberalmente en pro del periodista. Estimo
que la indicada exposicion de motivos justifica, mas aun, requiere una
interpretacion liberal.
Como queda dicho, en el proyecto de ley original presentado por el
Senador Sotto el privilegio se establecia de una manera absoluta,
incondicional. Sin embargo, el comite de revision de leyes del Senado
al cual se habia endosado el bill, lo informo con una enmienda,
aadiendo al final del articulo 1 transcrito arriba las siguientes
palabras: "unless the court finds that such revelation is demanded by
the public interest."* Al discutirse, sin embargo, el proyecto en pleno
Senado, Sotto formulo una enmienda mediante la supresion de la
salvedad insertada por el comite, tratando asi de restaurar la
fraseologia original del proyecto. Cuenco, en su caracter de ponente
y chairman del comite de revision de leyes, se opuso a la enmienda
Sotto por supresion y siguio un debate bastante extenso. Sotto dijo
enfaticamente que "esas palabras deben suprimirse porque matan el
objeto del proyecto de ley. Si, como ha dicho el sesudo presidente del
comite de revision de leyes, el pretende colocar al periodista en el
mismo nivel del sacerdote, tengamos en cuenta que en el caso de este
no hay esa excepcion."
Cuenco, cerrando el debate, hizo las siguientas manifestaciones en
contra de la enmienda Sotto:
El Sen. CUENCO. Seor Presidente, como ya he manifestado
el Comite siente no poder aceptar la enmienda, porque puede
haber casos, quiza muy contados, en que el interes publico y el
interesmismo del Estado requieran que se publique el nombre
del informante. Supongamos que un periodista publicara una
informacion referente al hurto o sustraccion de unos planos de
fortalezas o de un sitio importante de defensa. Si la inmunidad
que se otorga al periodista fuese absoluta, como la que se
propone en la enmienda, el autor de la sustraccion pordria
quedar impune.
Seor Presidente: he sido periodista por espacio de veinticinco
aos y me honro en serlo, antes que abogado, antes que
legislador, pero, por lo mismo que tengo un concepto elevado
de la profesion no quisiera que se diese el caso de que una
traicion al estado quedase impune: que nosotros llevasemos a
extremos exagerados la proteccion que se da al periodista.
Puesta a votacion la enmienda, fue rechazada, votanda a favor 3 y en
contra 7.

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

54

Sotto, sin embargo, no se dio por enteramente derrotado.


Esforzandose por sacar avante su proyecto de ley con la menor
cortapisa posible para la lilbertad de la prensa, propuso otra enmienda
en el sentido de sustituir las palabras "public interest" con "interest of
the State," de tal suerte que la salvedad se leyera como sigue: "unless
the court finds that such revelation is demanded by the interest of the
State."* Ya no hubo debate sobre esta enmienda: el mismo comite la
acepto, por boca de su chairman el Senador Cuenco. Puesto a
votacion, la misma se aprobo por unanimidad. Sin embargo, antes de
la votacion, el Senador Garcia pregunto que diferencia esencial habia
entre las frases "public interest" e "interest of the State". Sotto
contesto que "la diferencia esta en que puede haber uncaso de
espionaje como el citado por el Senador Cuenco, delito en que esta
interesado el Estado y no se puede descubrir al autor," mientras que,
por otro lado, la frase "public interest" es muy elastica." "En cambio
continuo Sotto si se pone "interest of the State", claramente se
entenderia que mediando el interes del Estado, el periodista estara
obligado a revelar la fuente de su informacion." (Diario de Sesiones
del Senado, supra.)
De lo expuesto resulta evidente que la sustitucion de la frase "public
interest" por la de "interest of the State"no fue simplemente casual e
inimportante, sino que fue harto deliberada, hecha con el proposito de
restringir el alcance de la salvedad. Se dijo que la frase "public
interest"es muy elastico y el Senado, en pleno, acepto este
pronunciamiento. Asi que se puso "interest of the State" para denotar
que solo se podria obligar al periodista a descurbirir, como testigo, la
fuente de su informacion cuando el Estado
estuviese vitalmente interesado en la materia; es decir, cuando
estuviese envuelta la seguridad del Estado, de la Nacion, conceptos
que en este caso se confundirian. En ejemplo del espionaje citado por
el Senador Cuenco, abona esta interpretacion. "Interes del Estado"
tiene aqui un significado particularisimo, repelente de otros casos
extraos a la seguridad nacional: ese significado no puedeser mas
que el interes del Estado en su propia viad, en su propia seguridad. No
cabe extender el alcance de la frase a otros casos en que el Estado
pudiera estar mas o menos interesado, porque si la intencion del
Congreso fuera esa, la frase "public interest" seria mas que suficiente,
pues la misma cubre y comprende todos los matices publicos desde la
seguridad del Estado y de la Nacion hasta el ultimo asunto en que el
publico tuviera interes hasta cierto punto. Esta forma de interpretar es
tanto mas logica, obligada, cuanto que los legisladores aceptaron y
aprobaron unanimemente el pronunciamiento de que la frase "public
interest" era muy elastica, cubria demasiado. Por tanto, hay que
concluir que cuando adoptaron la frase sustitutiva "interest of the
State," la adoptaron para limitar, para restringir la salved,
reduciendola solamente a algunos casos, muy contados, segun
expresion del Senador Cuenco. "Que casos son estos" Entiendo que

deben sercongeneres, es decir, del mismo tipo que el caso de espionaje


citado; es decir, casos que afecten vitalmente a la seguridad del
Estado, de la Nacion. Verbigracia: una conspiracion para derrocar
violentamente nuestra forma de gobierno y establecer en su lugar una
dictadura comunista totalitaria al estilo sovietico, seria uno de
esos muy contados de que habla el Senador ponente. No cabe aplicar,
extender la frase a casos de otra especie, de otrogenero, porque ese
equivaldria a establecer un "standard," una norma de interpretacion
arbitraria, hasta caprichosa, como mas adelante voy a demostrar,
apreciando que el interes del Estado esta entraado en algunos
asuntos y matices de caracter publico y excluyendolo, sin embargo, de
otros, yen esto sin mas guia y norma que la opinion harto debatible del
juez o tribunal sentenciador sobre lo que es digno de ser catalogado
bajo la frase "interes del Estado" y sobre lo que no lo es.
Resulta evidente, de lo dicho, que no es exacto y carece de
fundamento lo que en la decision de la mayoria se afirma, a saber: que
las frases "public interest" o "interest of the State" se entendieron y
usaron indistintamente por los Senadores. Por el contrario, el Diario
de Sesiones del Senado demuestra de un modo inequivoco que los
Senadores sabian muy bien lo que hacian al cambiar una frasse por
otra y se daban perfecta cuenta de que el cambio no era simplemente
gramatical o lexicografico, sino qu entraaba una considerable
diferencia en cuanto al significado y alcance de la salvedad o
excepcion. Sabian muy bien quela frase "public interest" es
muy elastica, al decir del Senador Sotto, y que desde luego tiene un
marco mucho mas amplio que la frase "interest of the State." La
presuncion es que los legisladores toman muy en serio la tarea de
legislar y que cuando cambian una frase por otra lo hacen no por
simple capricho, sino con verdadera deliberacion. La tarea legislativa
no es un juego de nios. Pero que mejor prueba de la diferencia entre
ambos conceptos que la misma admision de la mayoria en su
decisional decir que "interest of the State" is not as broad and
comprehensive as "public interest" which may include most anything
though of minor importance but affecting the public" 1 ...?lawphil.net
La endoblez de la teoria de la mayoria salta a la vista si se examinan
sus implicaciones y consecuencias. Por que decide la mayoria que en
el presente caso se halla envuelto el interes del Estado y que, por
tanto, el recurrido esta obligado a revealr la fuente de su informacion
y si no lo hace incurre en desacato, punible con prision? Por varias
razones que se exponen en la decision, entre las cuales se destacan las
siguientes: (a) los examenes de abogados estan colocados bajo la alta
supervision de esta Corte Suprema, cuyo prestigio, buen nombre y
respectabilidad es de supremo interes del Estado el conservar y
mantener; (b) miles de abogados se hallan esparcidos por el pais
ejerciendo su noble profesion, y centenares si no miles se anaden cada
ao a esa vasta legion; asi que la Corte Suprema y esta enorme masa
de letrados estanvitalmente interesados en elevar el "standard"

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

55

profesional, procurando que entren solo los idoneos, moral e


intelectualmente, y este interes cae tambien bajo la catagoria de
"interes del Estado"; (c) acaso por natural inclinacion, la abogacia es
la profesion mas popular en Filipinas; de ahi la abundancia de colegios
y escuelas de derecho en donde estudian miles de jovenes de ambos
sexos aspirando a ponerse la toa de Marco Tulio; de ahi naturalmente
tambien el interes del Estado en que esa profesion tan popularno
caiga en descredito, cosa que ocurriria facilmente si los examenes de
abogados no se efectuasen propia y honradamente como una prueba
rigida de la capacidad y caracter de los examinandos, circulando
previamente cuestionarios de "contrabando" tal como se ha
denunciado en el articulo informativo que nos ocupa; (d) entre los
abogados se escoge el personal para la judicatura y la administracion
de justicia magistrados, jueces de primera instancia, fiscales, jueces
de paz y letrados en las diferentes oficinas y agencias del gobierno; de
ahi que sea naturalmente tambien interes del Estado el conservar la
integridad y buen nombre de una profesion que proporciona al
gobierno y a la nacion tan valiosos servidores y elementos; (e) en la
pureza de los examenes de abogados esta envuelto no solo el buen
nombre de la Corte Suprema como queda dicho, sino tambien el buen
nombre de la junta examinadora y de los empleados de la Corte que
intervienen y vigilan dichos examenes; asi que todo cargo de venalidad
y corrupcion tiene que afectar a dicho buen nombre y proyectar una
sombra de sospecha sobre el mismo; de ahi que sea interes del Estado
el que se investiguen implacablemente los cargos para depurar los
hechos y hallar la verdad castigando a los culpables si los hay, y
purificando de tal manera los examenes, pero si, por otro lado, los
cargos resultaren falsos, reivindicando el buen nombre de los
afectados; (f) en resumen, de lo dicho se sigue que los examenes de
abogados tienen importancia nacional y, por tanto, cualesquier cargos
de venalidad, corrupcion e irregularidad tienen tambien importancia
nacional y es interes del Estado el que se investiguen hasta el limite
maximo de las posibilidades legales.
En ultimo analisis, se puede decir que la mayoria estima envuelto en el
presente caso el "interes del Estado,"primero, porque se trata de la
profesion de abogado profesion de noble y vasta significacion social,
juridica y politica y, segundo, porque tratandose de acusaciones
referentes a los examenes de abogados cuya supervision corresponde
a esta Corte Suprema, el buen nombre, el prestigio y la respetabilidad
de este alto tribunal estan necesariamente afectados. Veamos ahora si
la tesis puede resistir a un examen rigido, objetivo.
No sere yo quien discuta o ponga en tela de juicio la prestancia, el
elevado rango de la profesion de abogado a la cual me honro en
pertenecer. Pero que hay de las otras profesiones? Son ellas menos
dignas de merecer el supremo interes del Estado? Durante las
deliberaciones sobre el presente asunto tuve ocasion de formular estas
preguntas y otras semejantes. Recuerdo que inclusive cite casos

especificos preguntando, por ejemplo, si en los examenes de medicos,


farmaceuticos, ingenieros, dentistas y nurses, no podira tambien
considerarse envuelto el interes del Estado si al igual que en este
asunto se formulasen graves cargos de irregularidad, corrupcion y
venalidad. Respecto al caso de los medicos no obtuve una contestacion
categorica, definitiva; pero con relacion a las otras profesiones, la
respuesta fue decididamente negativa; respecto a ellas, no cabria
invovar el interes del Estado su rango, su significacion social no
justificarian tal invocacion. Ahora veo que en la decision de la mayoria
el ejercicio de la medicina se incluyo entre los "casos y materias de
importancia nacional, en los cuales el Estado o la nacion entera, y no
solo un ramo o instrumento del mismo como una provincia, una ciudad
o una pueblo, o una parte del publico, esta interesado o podrina
quedar afectado." Asique, a juicio de la mayoria, el ejercicio de la
medicina es al parecer de indole tan nacional y tan importante como
"interes del Estado"; al paso que las otras profesiones y vocaciones
quedan definitivamente excluidas del coto privilegiado.
Los farmeceuticos, sin embargo, podrian naturalmente formular las
siguientes preguntas: Por que se va a postergar nuestra honrada y
benemerita profesion? no nos cuesta tanto tiempo y tantos esfuerzos,
si no mas, hacer la carrera que el abogado, verbigracia? no
prestamos acaso a la sociedad, a la humanidad, un servicio tan util,
tan indispensable y tan importante como el de cualquier otro
profesional? no somos quienes preparamaos con infinito ciudado las
drogas y medicamentos que prescribe y receta el medico? no esta en
nuestras manos la salud, la vida, e incluso la muerte de los
ciudadanos, de los hombres? por que, pues, se va a sentenciar que el
interes del Estado no esta vinculado en nuestra profesion?
Por su parte, los ingeniereos de todas clases civiles, industriales,
quimicos, mecanicos, navales, mineros, etc. podrian hacer estas
embarazosas preguntas: "Por que todos los mimos y caricias van a ser
para los abogados? nada mas que porque la mayor parte del tiempo
nos ponemos la humilde blusa del obrero y estamos casi siempre
sucios -- la suciedad inherente al sudor y mugre del trabajo? no
construimos acaso los caminos, los puentes, los sistemas de aquas, los
sistemas de regadio, los hermosos y enormes edificios particulares y
publicos, las ingentes fabricas, en una palabra, todo eso que
constituye la maravillade los presentes tiempos, traduciendo en
realidad tangible lo que no parecia ser mas que loca fantasia de la
imaginacion de los poetas? no hemos acaso conquistado el secreto
divino de los atomos, desencadenando, es verdad, las fuerzas ciegas
de la destruccion sobre el mundo, pero tambien abriendo para el
genero humano vastos panoramas y perspectivas de progreso y
bienestar casi ilimitado? Se dice que la abogacia es la carrera mas
popular y mas codiciada en Filipinas, pero no existe el peligro de que
esta popularidad se este fomentando insensatamente a expensas de la
vitalidad de la nacion? nose cree acaso llegado el momento de que los

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

56

caudillos y directores del pensamiento en este pais emprendan una


seria cruzada para orientar las aficiones y energias de nuestra
juventud hacia carreras mas practicas y mas constructivas no solo
para ellos particularmente, sino sobre todo para la nacion? por que se
va a consagrar precisamente con una sentencia judicial nada menos
que del mas alto tribunal la supremacia de la profesion de abogado
en este pais, en desdoro de las otras profesiones, por que?"
Y asi, por el estilo, las otras profesiones podrian reclamar y pretender
con jusiticia que tienen tanta categoria como los abogados para que se
considere aplicable a ellas el concepto juridico "interes del Estado" de
que habla la ley de la Republica No. 53 que nos ocupa. Y si esto fuese
asi, esto es, se estimase envuelto el "interes del Estado" en casi todas
las materias, verbigracia, hasta en los examenes de nurses, al punto
de que interes del Estado equivaldria practicamente a interes publico
que quedaria entonces del privilegio concedido por dicha ley a la
prensa? no seria mas bien una letra muerta, como predijo el Senador
Sotto al pedir la supresion de la salvedad o excepcion?
Se dice, con cierto enfasis, que la profesion de abogado tiene una
calidad excepcional, un rango privilegiado, porque de ella se escogen
y nombran los magistrados, los jueces de primera instancia, los jueces
de paz y los fiscales, en una palabra, el personal basico de la
administracion de justicia. Se ha insinuado inclusive que de esa
profesion surgen regularmente los lideres politicos y sociales de las
naciones y pueblos. Comencemos por esto ultimo. Tienen los
abogados la exclusiva del liderato publicos y social del mundo? Esto lo
diria un panegirista de la profesion en un discurso de fin de curso de
un colegio de leyes, pero la historia nos dice que el liderato no ha sido
nunca cuestion profesional, sino que el lider ha surgido como un
precipitado individual o social independientemente de las profesiones
y oficios. Ha habido y hay en el mundo muchos caudillos no abogados
y, por cierto, los mejores no siemprehan sido siempre los de esta clase.
Es verad que hubo un Lincoln abogado uno de los caudillos mas
sobresalientes que la democraica produjera en el mundo; pero
tembien hubo un Washington agrimensor padre de la nacion que
produjo a Lincoln. Y el caso de Filipinas es todavia mas tipico como
demostracion de las tesis de que el cuadillaje no es cuestion
profesional. Como todo el mundo sabe, nuestros dos mas grandes
caudillos en el pasado no eran abogados; Rizal era medico; y
Bonifacio, el llamado padre de la democracia filipina, no solo no era
profesional, sino que apenas era nada, academicamente hablando
era un simple bodeguero, un verdadero plebeyo. Sin embargo, esto no
le impidio, mientras fraguaba el acero candente del Katipunan,
empaparse en las gestas de la revolucion francesa leyendo a Thiers en
espaol. (Cuantos de nuestros abogados dicho sea entre parentesis
sobre todo de la epoca de Bonifacio, habran leido, o siquiera visto el
forro, de la Revolucion Francesa de Thiers?)

Es verdad que el personal basico de la administracion de justicia esta


compuesto de abogados, pero en la misma decision de la mayoria se
reconoce que la administracion de justicia es solo una de las
principales funciones del gobierno y a renglon seguido se apunta el
sistema de enseanza publica (public school system) como otra
funcion de importancia nacional. Entonces cabe preguntar: porque no
se va a considerar tambien envuelto el "interes del Estado" en los
examenes de maestros, sobre todo si sonde servicio civil? No solo los
maestros constituyen la base de nuestro sistema de enseanza
publica, sino que incluso tienen mas envergadura nacional porque se
cuentan por miles, formando la clase mas numerosa de nuestros
servidores publicos. Sin embargo, en opinion de la mayoria los
maestros no tienen suficiente calibre como los abogados para que se
extienda aplicable a ellos la frase "interes del Estado" usada en la
referida ley de Republica No. 53. Este no es mas que uno de los
absurdos a que conduce la arbitrariedad de la norma adoptada por la
mayoria en su decision.
Analizare ahora el argumento aquiles de la mayoria. Se dice que el
interes del Estado se halla envuelto en el presente caso porque de por
medio anda el prestigio, el buen nombre de esta Corte Suprema en
virtud de las facultades de alta supervision que ejerce sobre los
examenes de abogados. El que escribe estas lineas no cede a nadie en
su celo por mantener incolume el prestigio de esta Corte; pero, al
propio tiempo, no puede cerrar los ojos a la realidad, a saber: que no
somos mas que uno de los tres poderes del Estado; que estos poderes
son iquales y ninguno de ellos tiene mas prestigio que el otro. Los
examenes de abogados no tienen mas importancia y envergadura
nacional porque los supervisamos que, por ejemplo, los examenes de
ingenieros y farmeceuticos, cuyas juntas examinandoras son
nombradas por el poder ejecutivo y son responsables ante el mismo. El
poder ejecutivotiene tanto derecho como esta Corte para velar por su
prestigio y buen nombre. Si, como al parecer admite la mayoria, el
interes del Estado no se extiende a los examenes de ingenieros y
farmaceuticos por no ser materia de suficiente monta nacional, luego
tampoco debe extenderse a los examenes de abogados tan solo porque
la Corte Suprema tiene intima relacion con estos en virtud de sus
facultades de supervision, pues, como queda dicho, ningun poder es
mas prestigioso que el otro desde luego esta Corte no puede
pretender se mas que los otros poderes del Estado.
Puede aducirse, por analogia, otro buen argumento en favor de la tesis
de esta disidencia. Una de las garantias constitucionales es la
inviolabilidad del secreto del la comunicacion y correspondencia,
excepto cuando la seguridad publica y el orden requieran otra cosa y
mediante una orden legal del tribunal. (Constitucion de Filipinas,
Articulo III, seccion 5, bill de derechos.) Es verdad que la constitucion
habla de seguridad publica, mientras que la ley de la Republica No. 53

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

57

habla de interes del Estado, pero la letra aqui no es lo importante, sino


la identidad del fondo, de la substancia del privilegio.
Se ha insinuado que si se permitiera al periodista ocultar la fuente de
su informacion tratandose de asuntos publicos de reconocida seriedad,
ello fomentaria la intriga y la cobardia entre los ciudadanos,
sancionando la abyectada anonimidad, aquello de "tirar la piedra
escondiendo la mano." El argumento tiene cierta fuerza, pero es de
dobrel filo. Si se admite la falta o flojedad del valor civico entre los
ciudadanos "que de malo hay en que, mientras se fomente y
fortalezca esa virtud con la educacion de las masas y los habitos de
una ciudadania militante, se deje a la prensa cierta latitud y cierta
libertad para sacar el mejor partido posible de la anonimidad
informativa en sus campaas contra la corrupcion, los abusos y las
anomalias? Con esto se lograria, por lo menos, que la prensa
cumpliese y realizase su cometido social concierta efecacia
descorriendo parte del velo, y dejando que el Estado, con sus agencias
de investigacion del crimen y de los chanchullos, haga el resto. Por
ejemplo, en el presente caso: por quela Corte Suprema va a insistir
en actuar como se fueseuna agencia policiaca? por que va a tratar al
periodista como se este fuese un detective, obligandole a revelar todos
sus datos, incluso los nombres de sus informantes? Nos quejamos de
nuestra impotencia ante al silencio contumaz del recurrido: por que
no entregar el caso a la National Bureau of Investigation la famosa
NBI cuya eficiencia todos reconocen y dejar que la misma sea guien
se entienda con el recurrido y maneje la informacion de estecon la
tecnica y medios de que dispone para sus investigaciones?
En realidad, el periodista ya rinde un buen serviciocuando denuncia
un anomalia si bien reservandose el nombre de su informante. Por
que castigarle si insiste en conservar su secreto, excepto cuando
medie la seguridad del Estado y de la Nacion, unica salvedad que
establece la ley? Esta bien que no se le premie o aplauda por el bien
que hace, pero castigarle? Es el colmo!
Es que, se dira, el periodista puede obrar de mal fe denunciando unas
anomalias imaginarias y provocando conello un tremendo escandalo
con todos los daos y perjuicios que de ello pueden seguirse para el
buen nombre y la reputacion de las personas y de las instituciones. Es
verdad. No se puede negar que hay bribones en la prensa esos que
en otras ocasiones he llamado "tuisanes de la pluma," peores a veces
que los salteadores de caminos. Tampoco se puede negar que hay lo
que se llama prensa amarilla, dedicada a cultivar el sensacionalismo
malsano y morboso. Pero el remedio contra esto no es la ley de la
Republica No. 53 que nos ocupa; existen otros remedios, unos en el
codigo penal; otros, en la misma ley de desacato; y otros, en el
desprecio, repulsa y hostilidad de la misma opinion publica, ya que,
despues de todo, la prensa no puede vivir sino del favor publico. Poco
despues de la liberacion un periodista publico un articulo virulento
denunciando supuestas anomalias o irrigularidades en relacion con los

examenes de abogados celebrados durente la ocupacion japonesa. Se


le emplazo para que probase sus cargos. No los probo: era evidente la
mala fe. Le castigamos por desacato y si no se le impuso una pena mas
severa fue porque canto la palinodia retractandose. (Vease In
re Francisco Brillantes, por desacato.)
La Ley de la Republica No. 53 es una medida liberal, progresiva,
concebida y promulgada par capacitar la prensa a realizar su
transcendental cometido del mejor modo posible. La prensa es una de
las mas preciosas conquistas y posesiones de nuestra civilizacion. Se
puede prescindir de algunas cosas jamas de una prensa libre, veraz,
eficiente. Sin este formidable implemento social, la democracia no se
puede concebir. Por tanto, la ley debiera interpretarse libremente,
hasta el maximo grado de liberalidad, compatible con la vida y
seguridad del Estado.
El caso Sakdalan, que se origino en esta Corte, fue la causa ocasional
que determino la aprobacion de esa ley. Es, en verdad, una deplorable
coincidencia que el caso Sakdalan se repita en esta misma Corte con
el presente caso de Parazo, y en peores terminos y circunstancias,
pues mientrs a Sakdalan se le tuvo arrestado por solamente dos dias, a
Parazo se le va a encarcelar ahora por un mes. Mucho me temo que
esta decision enturbie una ejecutoria tan preclara de liberalismo como
la que abrillanta nuestra jurisprudencia en materias sobre libertad de
imprenta.
Voto en favor de la exoneracion de recurrido.
[A.C. No. 4921. March 6, 2003]
CARMELITA I. ZAGUIRRE, complainant, vs. ATTY. ALFREDO
CASTILLO, respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
Before this Court is a Petition for Disbarment filed by Carmelita I.
Zaguirre against Atty. Alfredo Castillo on the ground of Gross Immoral
Conduct.
The facts as borne by the records are as follows:
Complainant and respondent met sometime in 1996 when the two
became officemates at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
[1]
Respondent courted complainant and promised to marry her while
representing himself to be single.[2] Soon they had an intimate
relationship that started sometime in 1996 and lasted until 1997.
[3]
During their affair, respondent was preparing for the bar
examinations which he passed. On May 10, 1997, he was admitted as a

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

58

member of the Philippine Bar.[4] It was only around the first week of
May 1997 that complainant first learned that respondent was already
married when his wife went to her office and confronted her about her
relationship with respondent.[5] On September 10, 1997, respondent,
who by now is a lawyer, executed an affidavit, admitting his
relationship with the complainant and recognizing the unborn child
she was carrying as his.[6] On December 09, 1997, complainant gave
birth to a baby girl, Aletha Jessa. [7] By this time however, respondent
had started to refuse recognizing the child and giving her any form of
support.[8]
Respondent claims that: he never courted the complainant; what
transpired between them was nothing but mutual lust and desire; he
never represented himself as single since it was known in the NBI that
he was already married and with children; [9] complainant is almost 10
years older than him and knew beforehand that he is already married;
[10]
the child borne by complainant is not his, because the complainant
was seeing other men at the time they were having an affair. [11] He
admits that he signed the affidavit dated September 10, 1997 but
explains that he only did so to save complainant from embarrassment.
Also, he did not know at the time that complainant was seeing other
men.[12]
After due hearing, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline found
Atty. Alfredo Castillo guilty of gross immoral conduct and recommends
that he be meted the penalty of indefinite suspension from the practice
of law.
The Court agrees with the findings and recommendation of the
IBP.
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
or deceitful conduct.
xxx

xxx
xxx

CANON 7 - A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity
of the legal profession, and support the activities of the
Integrated
Bar.
xxx

xxx
xxx

Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely


reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in public
or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the
legal profession.
Immoral conduct has been defined as:
xxx that conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or shameless as to show
indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of the
community. Furthermore, such conduct must not only be immoral,
but grossly immoral. That is, it must be so corrupt as to constitute a
criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree
or committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to
shock the common sense of decency.[13]
In his affidavit dated September 10, 1997, duly acknowledged
before a notary public, he declared explicitly:
1. That I had a relationship with one Carmelita Zaguirre, my
officemate;
2. That as a result of that relationship, she is presently pregnant with
my child;
3. That I hereby voluntarily recognize the child now under (sic) her
womb to be my own;
4. That I am willing to support the said child henceforth, including
his/her personal and medical needs, education, housing, food, clothing
and other necessities for living, which I will give through his/her
mother, Carmelita Zaguirre, until he/she becomes of legal age and
capable to live on his/her own;
5. That I undertake to sign the birth certificate as an additional proof
that he/she is my child; however, my failure to sign does not negate
the recognition and acknowledgement already done herein;
6. That I am executing this affidavit without compulsion on my part
and being a lawyer, I have full knowledge of the consequence of such
acknowledgment and recognition.[14]
More incriminating is his handwritten letter dated March 12,
1998 which states in part:
Ayoko ng umabot tayo sa kung saan-saan pa. All your officemates,
e.g., Ate Ging, Glo, Guy and others (say) that I am the look like(sic) of
your daughter.

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

59

Heres my bargain. I will help you in supporting your daughter, but I


cannot promise fix amount for monthly support of your daughter.
However it shall not be less than P500 but not more than P1,000. [15]
In the recent case of Luguid vs. Judge Camano, Jr., the Court in
castigating a judge stated that:
...even as an ordinary lawyer, respondent has to conform to the strict
standard of conduct demanded of members of the profession.
Certainly, fathering children by a woman other than his lawful wife
fails to meet these standards.[16]
Siring a child with a woman other than his wife is a conduct way
below the standards of morality required of every lawyer. [17]
Moreover, the attempt of respondent to renege on his notarized
statement recognizing and undertaking to support his child by
Carmelita demonstrates a certain unscrupulousness on his part which
is highly censurable, unbecoming a member of a noble profession,
tantamount to self-stultification.[18]
This Court has repeatedly held:
as officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral
character but must also be seen to be of good moral character and
leading lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of the
community. More specifically, a member of the Bar and officer of the
court is not only required to refrain from adulterous relationships or
the keeping of mistresses but must also so behave himself as to avoid
scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those
moral standards.[19]
While respondent does not deny having an extra-marital affair
with complainant he seeks understanding from the Court, pointing out
that men by nature are polygamous, [20] and that what happened
between them was nothing but mutual lust and desire. [21] The Court
is not convinced. In fact, it is appalled at the reprehensible, amoral
attitude of the respondent.
Respondent claims that he did not use any deception to win her
affection. Granting arguendo that complainant entered into a
relationship with him knowing full well his marital status, still it does
not absolve him of gross immorality for what is in question in a case
like this is respondents fitness to be a member of the legal profession.
It is not dependent whether or not the other party knowingly engaged
in an immoral relationship with him.

We agree with the IBP that the defense of in pari delicto is not
feasible. The Court held in Mortel vs. Aspiras:
In a disbarment proceeding, it is immaterial that the complainant
is in pari delicto because this is not a proceeding to grant relief to the
complainant, but one to purge the law profession of unworthy
members, to protect the public and the courts. [22]
The illicit relationship with Carmelita took place while respondent
was preparing to take the bar examinations. Thus, it cannot be said
that it is unknown to him that an applicant for admission to
membership in the bar must show that he is possessed of good moral
character, a requirement which is not dispensed with upon admission
to membership of the bar.[23] This qualification is not only a condition
precedent to admission to the legal profession, but its continued
possession is essential to maintain ones good standing in the
profession;[24] it is a continuing requirement to the practice of
law[25] and therefore admission to the bar does not preclude a
subsequent judicial inquiry, upon proper complaint, into any question
concerning his mental or moral fitness before he became a lawyer.
This is because his admission to practice merely creates a rebuttable
presumption that he has all the qualifications to become a lawyer.
The Court held:
The practice of law is not a right but a privilege bestowed by the
State on those who show that they possess, and continue to possess,
the qualifications required by law for the conferment of such privilege.
We must stress that membership in the bar is a privilege burdened
with conditions. A lawyer has the privilege to practice law only during
good behavior. He can be deprived of his license for misconduct
ascertained and declared by judgment of the court after giving him the
opportunity to be heard.[26]
and in Dumadag vs. Lumaya:
The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions.
Adherence to the rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the
highest degree of morality and faithful compliance with the rules of
the legal profession are the conditions required for remaining a
member of good standing of the bar and for enjoying the privilege to
practice law.[27]

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

60

Respondent repeatedly engaged in sexual congress with a woman


not his wife and now refuses to recognize and support a child whom he
previously recognized and promised to support. Clearly therefore,
respondent violated the standards of morality required of the legal
profession and should be disciplined accordingly.
As consistently held by this Court, disbarment shall not be meted
out if a lesser punishment could be given. [28] Records show that from
the time he took his oath in 1997, he has severed his ties with
complainant and now lives with his wife and children in Mindoro. As of
now, the Court does not perceive this fact as an indication of
respondents effort to mend his ways or that he recognizes the impact
of his offense on the noble profession of law. Nevertheless, the Court
deems it more appropriate under the circumstances that indefinite
suspension should be meted out than disbarment. The suspension shall
last until such time that respondent is able to show, to the full
satisfaction of the Court, that he had instilled in himself a firm
conviction of maintaining moral integrity and uprightness required of
every member of the profession.
The rule is settled that a lawyer may be suspended or disbarred
for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long
as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or
good demeanor.[29]
ACCORDINGLY, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds
respondent GUILTY of Gross Immoral Conduct and ordered to suffer
INDEFINITE SUSPENSION from the practice of law.
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Atty. Castillos personal
record in the Office of the Bar Confidant and a copy thereof be
furnished the IBP and all courts throughout the country.
SO ORDERED.
[A.C. No. 4148. July 30, 1998]
REMEDIOS RAMIREZ TAPUCAR, complainant, vs. ATTY. LAURO
L. TAPUCAR, respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
In a letter-complaint dated November 22, 1993, complainant
Remedios Ramirez Tapucar sought the disbarment of her husband,
Atty. Lauro L. Tapucar, on the ground of continuing grossly immoral

conduct for cohabiting with a certain Elena (Helen) Pea under


scandalous circumstances.[1]
Prior to this complaint, respondent was already administratively
charged four times for conduct unbecoming an officer of the court. in
Administrative Matter No. 1740, resolved on April 11, 1980,
respondent, at that time the Judge of Butuan City, was meted the
penalty of six months suspension without pay, [2] while in Administrative
Matter Nos. 1720, 1911 and 2300-CFI, which were consolidated, [3] this
Court on January 31, 1981 ordered the separation from service of
respondent.[4]
Now he faces disbarment.
The records reveal the following facts:
From the Report and Recommendation of the Commission on Bar
Discipline, it appears that complainant and respondent were married
on October 29, 1953 at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in
Quezon City. They established their residence in Antipolo, Rizal, were
eight of their eleven children were born. In 1962 respondent
relocated his family to Dadiangas, Cotabato (Now General Santos
City), where his last three children were born and where he practiced
his profession until his appointment as a CFI Judge in Butuan City on
January 30, 1976.
In August, 1976, shortly after being appointed as CFI Judge,
respondent began cohabiting with a certain Elena (Helen) Pea, in
Nasipit, Agusan Del Norte. On December 28, 1977 Elena gave birth to
their first child, named Ofelia Sembrano Pea.
In view of this cohabitation, a certain Atty. Tranquilino Calo filed
an administrative complaint against respondent for immorality. After
investigation, the penalty of suspension from office for a period of six
months without pay was meted by this Court upon respondent.[5]
Despite this penalty, respondent still continued to cohabit with
Elena, giving rise to another charge of immorality and other
administrative cases, such as conduct unbecoming an officer of the
court, and grossly immoral conduct. These cases were consolidated
and after investigation, this Court ordered his dismissal and
separation from the service.[6]
But his dismissal as a judge did not impel respondent to mend his
ways. He continued living with Elena, which resulted in the birth on
September 20, 1989, of their second child named Laella Pea
Tapucar. Moreover, he completely abandoned complainant and his
children by her.
Respondent later moved from Nasipit, Agusan del Norte back to
Antipolo, Rizal, bringing along Elena and their two children. And
on March 5, 1992, respondent contracted marriage with Elena in a
ceremony solemnized by Metropolitan Trial Court Judge Isagani A.
Geronimo of Antipolo, Rizal. This was done while the respondents

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

61

marriage to complainant subsists, as nothing on record shows the


dissolution thereof.
Complainant, in the meanwhile, had migrated to United States of
America upon her retirement from the government service in
1990. However, her children, who remained in Antipolo, kept her
posted of the misery they allegedly suffered because of their fathers
acts, including deception and intrigues against them. Thus, despite
having previously withdrawn a similar case which she filed in 1976,
complainant was forced to file the present petition for disbarment
under the compulsion of the material impulse to shield and protect her
children from the despotic and cruel acts of their own
father. Complainant secured the assistance of her eldest daughter,
Atty. Ma. Susana Tapucar-Baua, to represent her in this case.
Consistent with Section 20, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, the
matter was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, report and
recommendation. After conducting a thorough investigation, the
Commission through Commissioner Victor C. Fernandez recommended
that respondent be disbarred, and his name be stricken off the roll of
attorneys. Mainly, this was premised on the ground that,
notwithstanding sanctions previously imposed upon him by the
Honorable Supreme Court, respondent continued the illicit liaison with
Elena.[7]
In his report Commissioner Fernandez noted that, instead of
contradicting the charges against him, respondent displayed
arrogance, and even made a mockery of the law and the Court, as
when he said:
I have been ordered suspended by Supreme Court for two months
without pay in 1980 for having a mistress, the same girl Ms. Elena
(Helen) Pea, now my wife. Being ordered separated in later
administrative case constitute double jeopardy. If now disbarred for
marrying Ms. Elena Pea will constitute triple jeopardy. If thats the
law so be it.[8]
Based on said report, the Board of Governors of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines, passed on May 17, 1997, a Resolution adopting
the Commissioners recommendation, as follows:
RESOLUTION NO. XII-97-97
Adm. Case No. 4148
Remedios Ramirez Tapucar vs. Atty. Lauro L. Tapucar
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating

Commissioner in the above-titled case, herein made part of the


Resolution/Decision as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation
therein to be fully supported by the evidence on record and the
applicable laws and rules, Respondent Atty. Lauro L. Tapucar is hereby
DISBARRED and that his name be stricken off the roll of attorneys.
We find the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner
Fernandez, as approved and adopted by the Board of Governors of IBP,
more than sufficient to justify and support the foregoing Resolution,
herein considered as the recommendation to this Court by said Board
pursuant to Rule 139-B, Sec. 12(b), of the Rules of Court. * We are in
agreement that respondents actuations merit the penalty of
disbarment.
Well settled is the rule that good moral character is not only a
condition precedent for admission to the legal profession, but it must
also remain intact in order to maintain ones good standing in that
exclusive and honored fraternity.[9] There is perhaps no profession
after that of the sacred ministry in which a high-toned morality is
more imperative than that of law.[10] The Code of Professional
Responsibility mandates that:
Rule 1.01.
A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely
reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in
public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the
discredit of the legal profession.*
As this Court often reminds members of the Bar, they must live up
to the standards and norms expected of the legal profession, by
upholding the ideals and tenets embodied in the Code of Professional
Responsibility always. Lawyers must maintain a high standards of
legal proficiency, as well as morality including honesty, integrity and
fair dealing. For they are at all times subject to the scrutinizing eye of
public opinion and community approbation. Needless to state, those
whose conduct both public and private fails this scrutiny would
have to be disciplined and, after appropriate proceedings, penalized
accordingly.
Moreover, it should be recalled that respondent here was once a
member of the judiciary, a fact that aggravates this professional
infractions. For having occupied that place of honor in the Bench, he
knew a judges actuations ought to be free from any appearance of
impropriety.[11] For a judge is the visible representation of the law,
more importantly, of justice. Ordinary citizens consider him as a
Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)
62

source of strength that fortifies their will to obey the law. [12] Indeed, a
judge should avoid the slightest infraction of the law in all of his
actuations, lest it be a demoralizing example to others. [13] Surely,
respondent could not have forgotten the Code of Judicial Conduct
entirely as to lose its moral imperatives.[14]
Like a judge who is held to a high standard of integrity and
ethical conduct,[15] an attorney-at-law is also invested with public
trust. Judges and lawyers serve in the administration of
justice. Admittedly, as officers of the court, lawyers must ensure the
faith and confidence of the public that justice is administered with
dignity and civility. A high degree or moral integrity is expected of a
lawyer in the community where he resides. He must maintain due
regard for public decency in an orderly society.
A lawyer is expected at all times to uphold the integrity and
dignity of the legal profession by faithfully performing his duties to
society, to the bar, to the courts and to his clients.[16]Exacted from him,
as a member of the profession charged with the responsibility to stand
as a shield in the defense of what is right, are such positive qualities of
decency, truthfulness and responsibility that have been compendiously
described as moral character. To achieve such end, every lawyer
needs to strive at all times to honor and maintain the dignity of his
profession, and thus improve not only the public regard for the Bar but
also the administration of justice.
On these considerations, the Court may disbar or suspend a
lawyer for misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity,
which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in honesty, probity,
and good demeanor, thus proving unworthy to continue as an officer of
the court.[17]
The power to disbar, however, is one to be exercised with great
caution, and only in a clear case of misconduct which seriously affects
the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the Court of
and member of the bar. [18] For disbarment proceedings are intended to
afford the parties thereto full opportunity to vindicate their cause
before disciplinary action is taken, to assure the general public that
those who are tasked with the duty of administering justice are
competent, honorable, trustworthy men and women in whom the
Courts and the clients may repose full confidence.

In the case of Obusan vs. Obusan, Jr., [19] a complaint for


disbarment was filed against a member of the bar by his wife. She
was able to prove that he had abandoned his wife and their son; and
that he had adulterous relations with a married but separated
woman. Respondent was not able to overcome the evidence presented
by his wife that he was guilty of grossly immoral conduct. In another
case,[20] a lawyer was disbarred when he abandoned his lawful wife
and cohabited with another woman who had borne him a child. The
Court held that respondent failed to maintain the highest degree of
morality expected and required of a member of a bar.
In the present case, the record shows that despite previous
sanctions imposed upon by this Court, respondent continued his illicit
liaison with a woman other than lawfully-wedded wife. The report of
the Commissioner assigned to investigate thoroughly the complaint
found respondent far from contrite; on the contrary, he exhibited a
cavalier attitude, even arrogance; in the face of charges against
him. The IBP Board of Governors, tasked to determine whether he
still merited the privileges extended to a member of the legal
profession, resolved the matter against him. For indeed, evidence of
grossly immoral conduct abounds against him and could not be
explained away. Keeping a mistress, entering into another marriage
while a prior one still subsists, as well as abandoning and/or
mistreating complainant and their children, show his disregard of
family obligations, morality and decency, the law and the lawyers
oath. Such gross misbehavior over a long period of time clearly shows
a serious flaw in respondents character, his moral indifference to
scandal in the community, and his outright defiance of established
norms. All these could not but put the legal profession in disrepute
and place the integrity of the administration of justice in peril, hence
the need for strict but appropriate disciplinary action.
IN VIEW THEREOF, respondent Atty. Lauro L. Tapucar is
hereby DISBARRED. The Clerk of Court is directed to strike out his
name from the Roll of Attorneys.
SO ORDERED.

Basic Legal Ethics (Canons 6 and 7)

63